• Who Will Be The Yankees Closer In 2014?

    Posted by on August 1st, 2013 · Comments (9)

    We know that this is the last season for Mariano Rivera. So, who will be the Yankees closer next season?

    Conventional wisdom says that David Robertson moves up the ladder from set-up to closer. But, I am not so sure…

    I like Robertson – a lot. Nice kid. And, he’s been great in the set-up role. And, you can make a case that he’s been the second best relief pitcher in baseball since 2009:

    Rk Player WAR From To Age G GF W L SV IP ERA+ HR
    1 Mariano Rivera 11.2 2009 2013 39-43 243 216 10 11 160 235.1 243 14
    2 David Robertson 8.8 2009 2013 24-28 291 58 16 14 5 276.2 171 18
    3 Darren O’Day 8.7 2009 2013 26-30 273 57 20 6 4 250.0 191 25
    4 Koji Uehara 8.6 2009 2013 34-38 207 76 7 9 23 261.0 167 32
    5 Tyler Clippard 8.5 2009 2013 24-28 312 81 26 17 33 359.0 150 38
    6 Craig Kimbrel 8.4 2010 2013 22-25 204 163 13 6 120 200.2 273 9
    7 Jonathan Papelbon 8.1 2009 2013 28-32 304 265 17 15 164 310.0 159 27
    8 Rafael Soriano 8.0 2009 2013 29-33 297 207 10 14 142 289.1 150 24
    9 Jesse Crain 7.5 2009 2013 27-31 283 53 20 14 2 269.2 151 20
    10 Jim Johnson 7.5 2009 2013 26-30 281 163 15 20 107 303.2 136 21
    11 Rafael Betancourt 7.4 2009 2013 34-38 289 131 14 11 57 264.0 151 28
    12 Sean Marshall 7.4 2009 2013 26-30 297 67 21 24 15 303.2 141 17
    13 Mike Adams 7.3 2009 2013 30-34 271 29 15 12 3 254.2 192 17
    14 Darren Oliver 7.1 2009 2013 38-42 284 57 17 14 5 276.1 170 20
    15 Grant Balfour 6.9 2009 2013 31-35 312 109 15 11 58 302.1 140 26
    16 Eric O’Flaherty 6.9 2009 2013 24-28 295 29 13 7 0 249.1 200 11
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 8/1/2013.

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    But, I am not sure that Robertson has  the stomach to be a closer.    Why?  Look at how he as done in the save opportunities that he’s had in the big leagues, to date:

    Rk Date Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR IR IS BF ERA WPA RE24 aLI
    1 2013-04-20 TOR W 5-3 8-8 ,BS 0.2 2 2 2 2 2 0 1 1 6 27.00 -0.411 -2.472 2.406
    2 2012-09-20 TOR W 10-7 9-9f ,S 1.0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 3 0.00 0.034 0.510 .437
    3 2012-07-02 TBR L 3-4 7-7 ,BL 0.1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 3 0.00 -0.442 -1.692 2.070
    4 2012-06-28 CHW L 3-4 9-9f ,BL 1.0 1 1 1 0 1 1 2 2 4 9.00 -0.492 -1.142 1.582
    5 2012-05-09 TBR L 1-4 9-9 ,BL 0.2 3 4 4 1 1 1 0 0 6 54.00 -0.795 -3.596 4.942
    6 2012-05-08 TBR W 5-3 9-9f ,S 1.0 1 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 6 0.00 0.075 0.510 2.847
    7 2011-09-03 TOR W 6-4 8-9f ,S 2.0 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 7 0.00 0.157 1.063 1.290
    8 2011-07-09 TBR W 5-4 8-8 ,BW 1.0 2 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 6 9.00 -0.130 -0.469 2.784
    9 2011-05-11 KCR L 3-4 8-8 ,BS 0.2 1 1 1 2 2 0 0 0 5 13.50 -0.239 -0.987 3.432
    10 2011-04-05 MIN L 4-5 8-8 ,BS 0.1 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 3 2 0.00 -0.275 -2.206 3.005
    11 2010-08-12 KCR W 4-3 9-9f ,S 0.1 2 0 0 0 1 0 2 2 3 0.00 0.044 -1.506 3.862
    12 2010-04-27 BAL L 4-5 6-6 ,BL 0.1 3 2 2 0 1 0 1 1 5 54.00 -0.477 -2.773 1.948
    13 2010-04-04 BOS L 7-9 6-6 ,BS 0.2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 3 0.00 -0.018 -0.037 2.003
    14 2009-07-27 TBR W 11-4 8-9f ,S 1.1 2 1 1 0 1 1 2 0 6 6.75 0.027 -0.015 .161
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 8/1/2013.

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    More times than not, he’s failed in these spots.  Five for fourteen is not a great save rate, is it?  Think that’s going to change in 2014?

    Comments on Who Will Be The Yankees Closer In 2014?

    1. JeremyM
      August 1st, 2013 | 8:56 pm

      The five for fourteen is a bit misleading because it includes games that would only reward him with a “hold” and not a save – for example, if he comes in for the 8th inning. Matter of fact, if I did my math right, I show that only two of the blown saves above as happening during what we consider the traditional closer spot of the 9th inning. The others took place during “hold” situations in either the 6th, 7th, or 8th innings. In other words, he gets no credit for a successful hold but gets all the blame for a “blown save” in the above analysis.

      My opinion? Robertson won’t be Mariano, but he will be quite good as closer.

    2. Raf
      August 1st, 2013 | 10:26 pm

      If guys like John Axford, Jason Grilli and Grant Balfour can do it, why can’t Robertson?

    3. Evan3457
      August 1st, 2013 | 10:41 pm

      Raf wrote:

      If guys like John Axford, Jason Grilli and Grant Balfour can do it, why can’t Robertson?

      Some guys even bounce off the closer’s job a couple of times, before finally figuring it out.

      Like Ryan Madson, for instance.

    4. alexp1984
      August 21st, 2013 | 6:31 pm

      5 for 14 Steve?? A ” bit misleading” is putting it kindly. This is an extremely misleading statistic.

      You write ” Look at how he as done in the save opportunities that he’s had in the big leagues, to date”

      It’s amazingly inaccurate how you are portraying these 14 appearances as “save opportunities”.

      **Below is a breakdown of these 14 appearances. When he comes in and anything worth noting about the situation***

      In only 5 of these appearances does he enter the game in the 9th inning (as your typical closer does in mostly all of their appearances).

      In one of these 5 (6/28/12), another pitcher enters the 9th before Robertson, putting two men on an getting 0 outs. The Yankees would never have someone else come in the 9th in a 3-1 game before Rivera. Ever.

      In another one of these 5 (8/12/10), Robertson enters the 9th with 2 outs (Sabathia couldn’t finish the complete game). He would go on to get the save, but I won’t even count this one as its not a typical closer appearance and I’m not here to skew the numbers like it appears you are.

      That leaves 3 appearances where he enters the 9th inning for a typical save opportunity. He gets the save in 2 of these 3. 66% isn’t great but clearly an extremely small sample size.

      If we widen the range of what we are calling a “save opportunity”, you’ll see he also has a 4 out save on 7/27/09 where he comes in for the final out in the 8th and pitches the 9th (something closers are asked to do time to time).

      Closers are almost never asked to get more than 4 out saves (barring come playoff time when they may be asked to do some more out of the box things). In save opportunities of 4 outs or less, he’s actually 4/5.

      The fact that you have many games listed where he enters in the 6th, 7th, or even 8th inning (with no outs) shows you either know nothing about baseball, or you are completely skewing the statistics to show something that really isn’t there. The fact is that when Robertson has been called upon to get a save (and I do mean to get a save, not make a middle relief appearance for what would be a hold… Not that he hasn’t been incredible at that as well) he has not been nearly as bad as your “5 for 14” stat makes him out to be. If you showed that stat to baseball statisticians, they would laugh you out of the room.

      4/20/13- entered 8th with 1 out
      9/20/12 – entered 9th – true save
      7/2/12 -entered 7th with 2 outs
      6/28/12 – entered 9th after another pitcher put 2 on base
      5/9/12- entered 9th- actual blown save
      5/8/12- entered 9th- true save
      9/3/11- entered 8th – 2 inning save
      7/9/11- entered 8th
      5/11/11- entered 8th
      4/5/11- entered 8th with bases loaded
      8/12/10- entered 9th with 2 outs
      4/27/10- entered 6th with 2 out
      4/4/10 – entered 6th with out
      7/27/09- entered 8th with 2 out

    5. Sweet Lou
      September 3rd, 2013 | 9:40 pm

      “NEW YORK — Joe Girardi will spend part of the coming offseason advising Mariano Rivera to reconsider his scheduled retirement, the New York Yankees manager told ESPNNewYork.com.

      In a wider conversation about Rivera’s career Tuesday evening, Girardi was asked how many more seasons he thought his former teammate could continue to close at a high level.

      ‘I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t do it next year, I don’t,’ Girardi said. ‘He’s made it pretty clear that he doesn’t want to [return], but I always say, you know, January rolls around and sometimes you have a different feel about what you want to do.’

      Rivera, 43, announced during spring training that his 19th season with the Yankees would be his last.

      Entering Tuesday night’s game with the Chicago White Sox, Rivera was 4-2 with a 2.16 ERA and stood one save away from his ninth season of 40 or more.

      ‘I’m sure I’ll talk to him at some point in the offseason,’ Girardi said, ‘and … I’ll tell him when the season’s over, “Take a month. Take a month and a half, two months, and make sure this is really what you want to do. Because once you do go, it’s hard to come back.”

      Of course, Rivera wouldn’t be the first dominant Yankees pitcher of his era to return to the big leagues after announcing he was done; Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte made their own comebacks, with Clemens all but halting the 2003 World Series at the end of his farewell tour before signing with the Houston Astros three months later.

      Rivera has said his goodbye by meeting with longtime employees and fans of opposing teams to thank them for supporting the game. Told it would be difficult for Rivera to resume his career after staging his selfless victory tour of ballparks, Girardi said: ‘Well, I would tell him there’s probably three National League cities we’re going to next year that we didn’t go to this year.’

      At his retirement news conference in March, Rivera ruled out a future change of heart, saying, ‘I want to stay home, close the door, and do what’s next.’

      To date Rivera has offered no sign that he’s eased up on that stance. The Yankees plan to honor him before their home game with the San Francisco Giants on September 22nd.”

    6. Evan3457
      September 3rd, 2013 | 10:40 pm

      Rivera’s retiring, and the Yanks will have to learn to live with it, and without him.

    7. September 3rd, 2013 | 11:31 pm

      No way Mo is coming back.
      And, FWIW, the Yankees survived in 2012 without him.
      Eventually, they will find someone to close.

    8. rankdog
      September 4th, 2013 | 1:23 am

      Rivera is my favorite Yankee and it will be sad to see him go. He was utterly dominate during his entire career, showed class and respect. Glad I was able to see the entire run from start to finish.

      That being said, in this time of budget conscience roster management, its good not to be spending 15m or more on a closer. Its typically the most overpaid and overrated position in baseball. I didn’t mind spend that kind of cash during King George’s reign. He had no regard for a budget. He spent what it took to fill the roster with A+ talent. Hal is not his father. He cares about the luxury tax.

      2014 should be D Rob. If he can pitch base loaded 1 run games in the playoffs and get out of it, he has the stomach for the 9th. I couldn’t care less about some trumped up win-loss record in a small sample size. He has shown me he can get the job done.

    9. Mr. October
      September 4th, 2013 | 2:52 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      Eventually, they will find someone to close.

      But they will not find someone close.

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