Houdini’s Act Gone Bad
Last night’s game looked like it could have been a season changer for the Yankees. It finally looked like the Orioles were going to turn back into the Orioles and start caving to the Yankees.
They had just managed to blow a 5 run lead in the 8th inning and the Yankees scored all those runs with two outs. The Yankees finally received big hits from their big hitters in Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson. Then, Ichiro Suzuki hit a single past Robert Andino to tie the game. Joe Girardi handed the ball to David Robertson in the 8th ,and in a split second, he turned what could have been the biggest Yankees win of the season into their worst loss.
Last year, Robertson had as good of a season as a reliever can possibly have. Robertson had a 1.08 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and struck out 13.9 batters per nine innings. Robertson has certainly not had a poor season, but it has been nothing really like last season so far. This year, Robertson has a 2.77 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and has struck out 11.7 batters per nine innings. Those numbers are very good for a normal reliever, but do not stack up against his numbers from last season.
There was little chance Robertson could have repeated last season, but what is troubling is how he has gotten considerably worse as the season has gone on. Through his 17 appearances in August and September Robertson is only striking out 7.95 batters per nine innings. This directly coincides with Robertson abandoning his curveball for reasons nobody knows. During the month of August Robertson has thrown his fastball 80% of the time and his curve 19% of the time. Brooks Baseball does not have the September percentages up yet, but I would imagine they are not much different. For comparison, during his dominant season last year Robertson threw fastball 77% of the time and his curve 21% of the time. Part of the reason may be because Robertson can’t seem to throw his curve over anymore. Robertson only got 9.09% of his curves called for strikes in August, compared to 14.14% for his career. Also, 54.55% of the curves he threw in August were balls and for his career only 40.12% of his curves have been balls.
Robertson is not of the main reasons for this Yankees collapse, but he certainly has played a role in it. According to William Juliano of The Captains Blog, out of the six Yankee ties or leads Robertson has blown this season four have been against the Rays and Orioles, including two big ones in the last week. Obviously if he didn’t blow some of them the Yankees would have a lead. Now, that is probably being a little hard on him, but if you hold him up to last year’s standard’s he has not lived up to those standards. That’s probably an unfair standard to hold him to, but that is what the Yankees need from him right now.
Robertson is one of the most important Yankees players down the stretch. He is only one of two relief pitchers who can be counted on, so if he doesn’t deliver the Yankees have nobody else to turn to before the ninth inning. Without Houdini’s act returning it could be a long winter in the Bronx.