Dreaming on Robertson’s changeup

So something pretty cool happened the other night during the Yankees’ comeback win against the Rays on Monday night: David Robertson threw two changeups. And got a swing and miss on one of them! Why is this remarkable? Because before that gamE. Robertson had thrown exactly zero changeups. In his career, Robertson had thrown changeups just 1.4% of the time in his career. So, yeah, this is a pretty big deal. Why? Because it could have a dramatic impact on Robertson’s future.

Sean discussed something like this in regards to Ivan Nova/a slider back in March and I’ll use one of his sentences (though it pains me to borrow from such a deplorable human being):

While Nova’s new found slider is a nice development, I think we’ll have to wait a bit to see what change this makes in his overall profile.

We could replace “Nova” with “Robertson” and “slider” with “changeup” and have a similar discussion. I’ve always dreamed on Robertson as a future closer. I love his two pitch combination and his apparent knack for getting out of jams (yay high strikeout rates) would serve him well as a closer (though let’s see if he can keep that up, let alone repeat it). Of course, his frequent control issues probably keep that closer ceiling more of a dream than a reality. Adding the changeup to his repertoire could make that dream more of a reality. His fastball and curveball are already fantastic with the late life on the former and the great movement on the latter. A changeup would just add to the deception that Robertson already brings.

Few relievers have three effective pitches. And, of course, Robertson hasn’t shown his changeup to be effective yet. He just turned 26 so it’s not like he has years and years to learn this changeup and, frankly, I don’t expect it to be a fully effective pitch by the season’s end. However, if he works on it over the offseason, he could bring an even better arsenal with him in 2012 and help him climb the ladder to that closer status that seemed completely out of reach just a few days ago.*

*I realize I’m making a big leap here and we need to see Robertson use this changeup more than two times in a season, but I’m excited enough to think it’s worth it that he put in some work on it to make him an even better relief pitcher

9 thoughts on “Dreaming on Robertson’s changeup

  1. smurfy

    High marks on your thinking, Matt. David has to be just as excited: being so new, they completely fooled the batters in a crucial spot.

    Batters have to gear up for his fastball, and the changeup, if well executed, should be a supreme boggle.

  2. BobA

    If he keeps up with three quality pitches why not consider making him a starter? He reminds me of David Cone.

    • First, wouldn’t it take quite some time to figure out if the CH is actually “quality?”

      Second, and perhaps more importantly, Robertson hasn’t started a game since his freshman year at the University of Alabama in 2005. He didn’t start a single game for the Yankees in the minor leagues. I find it somewhat unrealistic to expect someone with literaly no starting experience at any level of professional baseball and without any starts since 2005 (in college, no less) to be converted to the rotation.

      I’m not saying it couldn’t happen but it seems odd to think that flashing two CH would suddenly get people thinking about Robertson changing roles. Even if he had an average CH — which we just don’t know — it would take at least a year or more to get Robertson back from the minors as a starter.

    • The only reason that ship hasn’t sailed is because it hasn’t been built yet and never will be built.

  3. Tom K.

    Pasada, Jeter and Rivera were the key to the Yankees’ five rings. Cano, Gardner and Robertson are the catalysts for the next round of parades up the “Canyon of Heroes.” A-rod’s stats will put him in Cooperstown but not in Monument Park.

    • smurfy

      hey, you wouldn’t be THK, would you?

  4. BFDeal

    Robertson’s curve and fastball have gotten nastier. With a decent change up he could be a closer here. Anyone but Soriano.

  5. Robertson has years ahead of him to develop the ability to put THREE pitches at 9 to 3 and 12 to 6 in the strike zone.
    The ability to mix pitches and locations depending on the count, the hitter and number of runners on base is CRUCIAL at any stage of a late inning specialist’s development.
    For those who are naive enough to want a talent like Robertson to be a starter, need we remind you what happened to Joba Chamberlain when the leadership decided THAT was a brilliant move ?

  6. William

    I like the article. Only issue I have is the idea that Robertson isn’t a good enough reliever to be a closer now. If we assume closer should be the best relievers (as is traditional), he’s not just good enough to be a closer now, he’s good enough to be one of the best in the business. A changeup would just make him even awesomer.

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