2014 Statistics: 39 SV, 64.1 IP, 3.08 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 13.43 K/9, 3.22 BB/9
2015 Contract Status: Free Agent
It is never easy to replace a legend, especially if that legend happens to be the best ever to play his position. For David Robertson, that is exactly what he had to do when he took over the closer’s role from Mariano Rivera. Despite consistently ranking among the best relievers in baseball for the last few seasons, there were still rumblings questioning Robertson’s ability to hold down the ninth inning since he was not a "proven" closer.
To the surprise of some, the unproven Robertson demonstrated that he was a worthy heir to Mariano, converting 89% of his saves while producing the second best hits per nine and K/9 rates of his career. 2014 also saw a change in Robertson’s pitch usage. Like his predecessor, Robertson all but abandoned his sneaky four-seamer, throwing it only 7.6% of the time and relied on the cutter Mo taught him as his primary fastball. Robertson also increased the usage of his trademark curveball to a career high 34.7%.
There were not many negatives to Robertson’s season, some may point to the fact that he blew five save opportunities this year, but the counterpoint is that two of those blown saves came in games where Robertson was pitching for the third consecutive day. Some may bring up that his season ERA of 3.08 is too high, but save for one game where he was torched for five runs in two-thirds of an inning, Robertson had a very respectable 2.40 ERA over the rest of the season. The one indefensible issue for Robertson this season was his walk rate. After posting rates under three for the past two seasons, the Yankees closer regressed slightly posting a 3.22 BB/9 in 2014.
Robertson is expected to test free agency, but hopefully he's re-signed by the Yankees to give them the formidable one-two punch they had this year with him and Dellin Betances. He will be a valuable commodity on the open market with a history as one of the most consistent relievers in baseball and just after a strong year in which he converted 39 saves in 44 attempts. He's in line for a payday when one considers how many teams suffered immensely this postseason because they lacked a capable closer to lock down games. David Robertson is that closer.