Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/21/14
Here’s the analytical truth: most MLB teams overvalue and overpay relief pitchers. Especially closers, and especially set-up men. Their jobs are glorified, so the argument goes, making their practice more exclusive than it should be. David Robertson has put together a first-half campaign worthy of a trip to the All-Star Game.   That being said, if David Robertson, the set-up man for the Yankees, was released and made a free agent today, you can bet every team in baseball would be knocking on his door. This is partly because traditional knowledge endures, but mostly because Robertson has knock-you-off-your-feet kind of stuff. The kind of stuff that belongs in the All-Star Game, this coming Tuesday at Citi Field. An All-Star for the first time in 2011, Robertson has a shot at his second trip to the Midsummer Classic by way of the A.L. Final Vote. As of this writing, he trails only Toronto’s Steve Delabar for the last spot on the A.L. roster. Granted, with five terrific relief pitchers on the final ballot it’s hard to say one guy deserves it more than any other, but here’s the case for D-Rob. At just 5’11, 195 pounds – decidedly small for a big-league pitcher – the Yankees’ diminutive right-hander can flick away hulking hitters like gnats. His strength comes from his legs, two Roman pillars that more closely befit the body of an NFL running back. His calves appear in an ongoing struggle to burst through the seams of his socks, as though the 28-year-old were still wearing his Little League uniform. His stature is quite the contradiction: a pair of Redwood trunks supporting the torso of a birch tree. The sight of a 95 mile-per-hour heater zipping from the hand of an undersized high-school lookalike is nearly enough show for the All-Star Game by itself. But Robertson doesn’t merely defy physics and throw hard like others do; he defies physics and gets outs. And more often than not, he does it with ease. He features three pitches – fastball, curveball, changeup – but essentially uses two. The fastball, which cuts and hops, sets the table, while the curveball, which falls off a cliff, clears it. The fastball, in particular, is a pitching marvel. Opposing hitters believe it accelerates as it nears the plate, giving it the illusion of rising at the last moment. Robertson throws a ball made out of cork and cowhide and makes it move like a plastic wiffleball. But Robertson has the one thing most wiffleball pitchers lack: command. Despite the magnetic movement of his pitches, he consistently throws strikes. In 36+ innings this year, he has issued only 12 walks, nearly two fewer per nine innings than in his banner year in 2011. Add to that the 23 hits against, and the result is 35 base runners in 36 1/3 innings, good for a team-leading WHIP of .96. Yes, Mariano Rivera was included. In the past, Robertson has been called Houdini by his teammates, for his shrewd ability to escape bases-loaded situations. But those were the days when Robertson was more of a fireman, a guy who would come out of the bullpen to douse a rally. These days, the 8th inning is all his. He starts it, finishes it, and hands the baton to the best anchor in baseball. Robertson works so quickly that a trip to the bathroom may cost you the chance to see him pitch. At the core of his efficiency is this: his batting average against when facing the leadoff man is .176. Like any great relief pitcher, Robertson quells rallies before they happen. When the rare hitter does get on base, his batting average against dips to .157. And when that hitter, by some grace of God, makes it into scoring position, Robertson’s batting average against is a meager .129. When the stakes heighten, D-Rob stiffens. His ability to escape jams when he’s in them owes to his penchant for punch-outs. Over 36 1/3 innings, he has racked up 46 strikeouts, or 11.4 per nine innings. Boston’s Koji Uehara is the only other pitcher on the Final Vote ballot with a WHIP less than 1 and more than 11 K/9. The rivalry always stirs. But the man Robertson needs to catch is Delabar. If he had any say in it, he’d set Delabar up with a pair of nasty cutters and then strike him out with a curveball from hell.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Memorabilia dealer at center of Todd Gurley scandal fired

Colt McCoy on learning he was starting ‘it’s about f—ing time’

Four Questions for Game 3 of the World Series

Percy Harvin not planning on changing

Ricky Williams: People are let down when I turn down weed

Joe Maddon opts out of contract with Rays

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Randall Cobb: Contract situation played role in slow start

Notre Dame WR faces discipline if he hooked up with porn star?

PGA president calls Ian Poulter ‘lil girl’ for Nick Faldo comments

Belichick declines to address Revis' reported tardiness

Texas mayor delays Halloween for Friday night football game

C-USA hired PR firm to help Marshall’s playoff chances

WATCH: American flag rips during Game 3 national anthem

WATCH: Tony Parker draws foul by simply yelling 'hey'

Video: Tom Izzo takes the stage with KISS on Midnight Madness

Eight NFL records that won’t be broken for a long time

Big trouble for Bruins: Chara out 4-6 weeks, possibly more

Blazers, Seahawks owner Paul Allen gives $100M to fight ebola

'FIFA 15' glitch turns goalie into headless giant with no arms

WATCH: HBO releases trailer of 'The Offseason: Kevin Durant'

Broncos corner snags INT, then takes pregnant wife to hospital

Gurley dressed up as a pirate for Halloween, yelled, 'Free me'

What the return of Luis Suarez means for Barcelona

Nick Saban pens touching letter after high school coach dies

Yankees News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Trouble for Bruins: Chara out 4-6 weeks

Joe Maddon opts out of contract with Rays

NBA Replay Center debuts next week

World Series win = Giants dynasty?

Reliving the worst college football game of the last 10 years

NFL teams facing must-win scenarios in Week 8

What the return of Luis Suarez means for Barcelona

Programs with a lot on the line this week

Wilson denies rumored Harvin rift

Lakers: Steve Nash out for season

Is Mack Brown SMU's best option?

Are sports leagues finally getting serious about domestic violence?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.