Most people thought David Robertson would make a fine closer taking the place of Mariano Rivera this season after spending the last couple of seasons as his setup man and learning from him.
Although it hasn't been the perfect transition from the greatest closer to ever put on baseball spikes to Robertson and on Sunday, the Yankees got a front-row seat that Robertson might not be the guy for the closers job because he's not the best guy for the job.
Robertson, now with two blown saves and a 4.50 ERA to his name now, hardly looks like a guy who used to dominate in the setup role that got him consideration for the closer job once Rivera retired. Robertson's dominance in the 8th inning is why the Yankees passed on signing guys like Fernando Rodney, Joe Nathan and Grant Balfour this past offseason.
The Yankees do have Andrew Bailey signed, but he's currently rehabbing his injuries that ended his 2013 season with the Boston Red Sox and may not be ready to pitch until August, possibly September, so the team can't use him in the closers job, which he could handle if he were healthy. Instead, the best option for the closers job is right in front of the team's face, dominating in every stint.
Dellin Betances, like Rivera, was once a failed starter in danger of falling out of place with the Yankees because he couldn't control his pitches, but was re-invented as a reliever and the Yankees have struck gold with the hard-throwing right-hander.
The 26-year-old is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA and has 56 strikeouts in 32.2 innings in 23 appearances and has been as dominant as a pitcher can be when he's on the mound. In his one appearance against the New York Mets back on May 15, Betances pitched 2.1 innings and struck out six of the seven batters he faced and the Mets hitters weren't even close to making contact with any of Betances pitches.
On Sunday against the Twins, Betances went two innings and struck out five out of the six batters he faced. Over his last 10 games, Betances has seen his ERA go from a 2.00 down to the 1.38 ERA he currently possesses, only further proving his dominance on the mound.
Pitchers who can dominate like Betances can are very rare to come by and it's clear that Betances is pitching on a much different level than Robertson is. Robertson is a good pitcher, but Betances is almost unhittable and over-powering, something Robertson isn't. Robertson gets by with deception and change of speed; Betances doesn't. Betances uses a 96-97 mile-per-hour fastball which is then followed with a curveball that should be outlawed because it's such a lethal pitch and causing batters to whiff at it.
On Sunday after Robertson imploded in the ninth inning and not only blew the save, but lost the game against the Twins, Betances said all the right things by saying Robertson will rebound and get better, but it's clear that Betances is the better choice to be the Yankees closer over Robertson.
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- Dellin Betances Talks New York Yankees’ Closer Job, David Robertson
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