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It will soon be David Robertson's job to close games for the New York Yankees and based on what he’s shown, the future of the position looks to be in pretty good shape.
Robertson earned his second save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning to complete a four-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, as the Yankees crept a half-game closer to the AL East and Wild Card leaders.
It continued what has been an amazing run of success for him this season.
Let’s take a closer look at his impressive season.
Robertson has converted 29 straight holds and a pair of save chances without blowing one since his lone blown opportunity this season on April 20 against the Blue Jays.
Robertson has been almost unhittable in his last 27 appearances. In a stretch that dates back to June 19, he’s allowed one run and one inherited runner to score in 26 innings. He’s averaging just over 10 strikeouts per nine innings and has an 0.92 WHIP.
Like a Magician
Robertson has earned the nickname Houdini for his ability to escape difficult situations.
In that 27-game stretch to which we’re referring, opponents are 2-for-29 against him with runners on base and 1-for-12 with men in scoring position.
New York Yankees
That includes three outs with the bases loaded, including a pair of strikeouts in his other save against the Angels on August 12.
Robertson has retired 23 straight hitters with the bases loaded. The last pitcher with a longer streak was Jeff Brantley, with 30 straight from 1989 to 1991.
On Thursday, Robertson didn’t put any men on base, but he did escape three consecutive 3-2 counts unscathed.
The back-against-the-wall approach is what Robertson does best. He’s retired seven of the last nine hitters against whom he’s had a 3-2 count.
Robertson has allowed one hit and seven walks to the 26 hitters he’s faced with a 3-2 count this season. The average major-league pitcher would allow a combo of 12 hits and walks to that number of hitters.
What a combination
Robertson wrapped up Thursday’s game with 18 pitches, of which 16 were fastballs, the other two curveballs.
Robertson will primarily throw fastballs (and cutters, per BrooksBaseball.net) prior to reaching a two-strike count, but it’s a near 50-50 split between that and the curveball when he’s a strike away from finishing the hitter. Robertson has the same number of strikeouts (32) with his fastball/cutter and his curveball this season.
The curveball in particular has become an almost impossible pitch for opposing hitters. They’ve only put 19 percent of their swings in play against that pitch, the best rate this season for any reliever who has thrown at least 100 curveballs.
The Yankees have now won 12 of 13 against the Blue Jays this season, but they’re a sub-.500 team against all other opponents. They’ll head on the road next for a series with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Robertson had a lot of trouble with the Rays last season, losing to them three times, but he’s since recovered. In six appearances in 2013, he’s allowed no runs and three hits in six innings, with 10 strikeouts.