Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dave Robertson > Rafael Soriano

(Hey look!  It's the new closer!  Courtesy of Reuters)

The biggest non-Mo talking point since Mo went down with his ACL injury has been who should take his place as closer this season.  It was talked about immediately after the injury was confirmed, it was talked about after D-Rob handled the 9th inning in order in a non-save situation on Friday night, and it was talked about again after he did his normal tightrope walk routine to close out the win last night.  Obviously the only 2 real candidates are Dave Robertson and Rafael Soriano, but I still feel like I have to ask this.  Why is anybody even talking about this in the first plate?  Why is there even cause for a "Robertson or Soriano" discussion?  Did I get transplanted into an alternate reality where Rafael Soriano is a better pitcher than Dave Robertson?  That's the only thing that I can think of that would explain this situation.

It's real simple, people.  Dave Robertson should be the closer.  And the reason he should be the closer is that he's simply a better pitcher and a more effective reliever than Rafael Soriano.  For all the talk about how erratic D-Rob can be and how many walks he issues and how you don't want runners on base in the 9th inning, the fact remains that Robertson has showed a consistent ability over the last 2+ years to get big outs when he needs to get them in a variety of different high-leverage relief situations.  And if you want to talk about walks, let's talk about how before last night Robertson had issued just 3 walks in 12.0 IP this season, good for a 2.25 BB/9 value that was only slightly higher than Mo's 2.16.  Robertson has shown serious improvement in his command and ability to throw strikes and paint corners, and has done it without sacrificing any of the nastiness of his stuff that allows him to rack up his dominant strikeout totals.  If that doesn't work for you, try these nuggets of knowledge on for size.

Some Designated Food For Thought

Yankee DHs This Season: .272/.328/.482, 10 XBH, 23 RBI, 11 BB, 19 K

Jesus Montero This Season: .275/.289/.431, 9 XBH, 16 RBI, 3 BB, 22 K

Just in case anybody wanted to reignite the "Cash blew the Montero trade" fire after the latest news of Jose Campos hitting the MiL DL with elbow inflammation.  Not having Montero's bat in the lineup has not hurt the Yankees at all this season.

Game 29 Wrap-Up: NYY 5 TB 3

(Jesus Who?  Courtesy of The AP)

As seems to be SOP around Yankeeland lately, there was big breaking news yesterday with the announcement that Andy Pettitte would make his return to the rotation on Sunday.  Ivan Nova was scheduled to start on Sunday after making his start last night, and recent struggles aside, there wasn't much reason to expect that Nova was the one targeted for replacement in the rotation.  In any event, Nova pitched like he was trying to earn a spot, and got the Yankees their 2nd straight win in the process.

Game Notes:

- In plain English, Nova was not fucking around last night.  He came out firing, and retired the first 12 batters he faced through 4 innings in order.  Well, sort of in order.  He gave up a leadoff single to Ben Zobrist to start the game and then retired 12 in a row after ending that 1st inning with a strike-'em-out/throw-'em-out DP.

- After a slow start, the Yankee offense started to build a little cushion for Nova.  It started in the 4th inning, when Raul Ibanez clubbed a 2-run HR just one AB after Robinson Cano was thrown out trying to score from 3rd on a Nick Swisher groundball.

- Curtis Granderson extended the lead with a solo HR, his 10th of the season, in the bottom of the 5th to make it 3-0 Yanks.  His at-bat was a 10-pitch battle against James Shields and ended when Shields hung a changeup.  Just a beautiful display of hitting by Granderson.

- After cruising through 5 innings, Nova got into a bit of trouble in the top of the 6th, giving up a leadoff HR to Jose Molina (really) and walking Ben Zobrist.  After a visit to the mound, Nova gathered himself and ended the inning with a GIDP by Carlos Pena and a follow-up groundout by B.J. Upton.

- Joe showed a lot of faith in Nova by letting him come out for the 7th, and Nova made that decision look questionable by giving up another HR, a walk, and a double to put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.  But as he did the inning prior, Nova managed to work out of trouble again, stranding the runners and ending the frame with a K of Jose Molina.

- The Rays tacked a run on in the 8th off of Rafael Soriano, but a solo shot from Ibanez in the 7th and an RBI double by Mark Teixeira in the 8th was enough to keep the Yankees ahead.  Left-handed RBI from Teix always make me smile.

- It was an impressive outing for Nova.  His fastball was living mid-90s again, his slider was really working for him, and he threw some nice curveballs for strikes and mixed pitches well.  He still missed his spots a few times, but the fact that he worked out of trouble twice late in the game, and the fact that Joe left him out there to do it, spoke volumes about how Nova has grown as a pitcher in the last year.

- After a clean outing on Sunday, D-Rob decided to get back to his usual routine and load the bases in the 9th in his first save opportunity of the season.  He struck out the last 2 hitters he faced, and as usual no runs crossed the plate, but there was a little sweating involved in locking down the W.