Red Sox Rankings: Top 5 Closers in the American League
According to baseball-reference.com, Robertson’s nickname is Houdini which must mean his ability to get out of jams is magical. He has displayed an uncanny knack for getting out of jams, though sometimes he was the pitcher who created them. Red Sox fans are quite familiar with Robertson who was the heir apparent to legendary closer Mariano Rivera. Robertson set up Rivera for his last three seasons in New York from 2011-13, posting a career 1.88 ERA in the eighth inning of games acting as a bridge to the ultimate lights out closer.
On a few occasions, Robertson was given the chance to close when Rivera was unavailable or out with injury, but was never given the job for too long. In 2014 after Rivera finally retired, Robertson was given his chance as Yankees closer and he was excellent, just not Rivera. He had a fine year, saving 39 games, posting a 3.08 ERA (2.68 FIP) and 1.06 WHIP, striking out 13.3 batters per nine innings. After more than 15 years with one closer, it seemed that the Yankees were uninterested in giving Robertson closer money despite these excellent stats. Like someone who comes out of a long term relationship, you don’t want to get in another one right away. The Yankees dumped Robertson on the open market in favor of last year’s hottest reliever on the market, Andrew Miller. The Chicago White Sox jumped in with a four year/ $46 million offer that Robertson took with a smile on his face.
Robertson’s first year as the Pale Hose’s closer wasn’t maybe as fantastic as they had hoped. For the most part, he was excellent, posting a 2.60 ERA through the end of August. A three game implosion allowing seven earned runs in three innings (when he blew three of his seven blown saves on the season) caused his ERA to balloon to 3.41 for the season which is far higher than you would like for your elite closer. Still, Robertson posted career bests in WHIP, walks per nine innings and strikeouts to walk ratio. He also struck out 12.2 batters per nine innings, keeping with his career average of 12.
He gives up too many home runs, seven in each of the last two seasons, and he had seven blown saves last season which put him below the less experienced Britton (at least in late inning situations, not as a closer). Still, for that high strikeout rate and experience, he rounds out the top five for American League Closers.
Stay tuned to BoSoxInjection.com as we ramp up to the 2016 season, less than two weeks away. See you next Tuesday for another edition of Power Rankings.