Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 7/10/13
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.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Richardson charged for resisting arrest after high-speed chase

Yankees finally get Dustin Ackley

Five most overrated teams in the CFB preseason coaches’ poll

Padres manager pulled players to give media ‘something to think about’

Robert Kraft signs fan’s ‘Free Brady’ poster

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jerry Jones supports Joseph Randle as Cowboys’ starting RB

Dallas Cowboys place Darren McFadden on PUP list

Mark Cuban: Brady suspension should be more severe

Darrelle Revis thinks AFC East will be NFL’s toughest division

David Price traded to Blue Jays

Joey Bosa among four OSU players suspended for opener

Cardinals ink billion dollar TV deal from Fox Sports Midwest

Spurs Jesus catches burglar, holds him down for police

Will the San Francisco Giants end up standing pat?

Puig: Broke out of slump by playing baseball video games

Braves dump risk, exchange it for risk

Cole Hamels deal: What is the true price of rebuilding?

William ‘Refrigerator’ Perry auctioning off Super Bowl ring

Affairs of the Hart (Trophy)

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Terry Collins writes letter to widow of longtime Mets fan

Jets fans fly "Cheaters Look Up" banner over Patriots practice

Dodgers upgrade rotation in unexpected, intelligent way

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Will the Giants end up standing pat?

Puig: Broke out of slump by playing baseball video games

Braves dump risk, exchange it for risk

David Price traded to Blue Jays

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Cole Hamels chose Rangers over Astros

Can Preller fix the mess in San Diego?

Next summer's top 10 NBA free agents

Who is the NL's new top shortstop?

Cardinals HC Bruce Arians calls Jen Welter a 'trailblazer'

Mets still act like a small-market team

Tom Brady: I did nothing wrong

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker