Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/18/14
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

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Wolves trade Corey Brewer to the Rockets

Yankees trade Prado to Marlins for Eovaldi in 5-player deal

Brandon Browner fined $8K for throwing Brandon Gibson to turf

Report: Sharper, NFLers called spiked drinks 'horny juice'

Rex Ryan: My wife could coach Tom Brady

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jim Harbaugh won in laser tag by 'hunting' 10-year-old kid

Eddie Lacy is ‘very blind,’ refuses to wear goggles

Michael Phelps pleads guilty to DUI, gets probation

NFL scouts not in love with Amari Cooper?

Report: No teams interested in trading for Lance Stephenson

It is not Chip Kelly's fault if Eagles miss playoffs

Video: Swaggy P elbows Steven Adams in throat, gets ejected

Video: Grizzlies buy car for assistant who had his stolen

Video: LeBron takes pass to the face from Dion Waiters

New video of Ray Rice incident emerges

President Obama calls James Franco “James Flacco”

NBA games of the weekend: Rondo's Dallas debut, Bulls-Grizz

Tuscaloosa students will have two days off if Bama plays in National Championship

Brady scares the **** out of his teammates celebrating

Longhorn Network’s yule log? Five hours of BEVO

Will a Chiefs WR finally catch a TD in Week 16?

Jon Lester and the Cubs

The Toronto Raptors reveal their new logo

MLB 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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Jon Lester and the Cubs

Report: NFL players used 'horny juice'

Top 10 worst NBA related commercials of all-time

Phelps gets probation for DUI

NFL coaches on hot seat in Week 16

The Roy Williams-Terrell Owens horse collar turns 10

Most underpaid NFL players in 2014

Gronk jokes about Brady compliment

In Matt Kemp, did the Dodgers find a pigeon in Padres?

Why the Saints are legit playoff threat

Impact of U.S.-Cuba relations on MLB

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.