On the heels of a season-ending ACL injury to legendary New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, it appeared as though the ninth-inning job was there for the taking for set-up man David Robertson. Now that an injury has felled Robertson as well, though, things are as uncertain as ever in the Yankee bullpen.
Robertson was ruled unavailable on Sunday and Monday due to some discomfort in his rib area, and it turns out that the discomfort was worse than originally thought. According to Lou DiPietro of YES Network.com, Robertson has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique.
The injury obviously comes at an awful time for Robertson, the Yankees and fantasy owners alike. Robertson was given the first crack at the closer spot last week and although he loaded the bases in his first chance, he converted the save. Robertson went on to blow a save and take a loss against the Tampa Bay Rays in his next outing, however.
Rafael Soriano nailed down the next save, and Robertson closed the game out in his next outing, although it wasn't technically a save situation. With Robertson and Soriano seemingly engaged in a carousel at closer, the job was still there for the taking as of Monday night.
Soriano got the call against the Baltimore Orioles, though, and he registered the save. It wasn't known at the time that Robertson was unable to pitch, as manager Joe Girardi revealed it after the game. With Robertson out for at least a couple weeks, Soriano is expected to assume the closer role on a full-time basis until Robertson gets back.
Who will ultimately be the Yankees' closer?
Assuming Soriano gets the job done without incident, he figures to be the main man, even when Robertson returns. Before Robertson's meltdown last week, he hadn't given up a run all season long and seemed like the logical choice to close out games with Rivera out. But this injury seems to have severely hurt his chances.
Soriano has closer experience with the Rays and Atlanta Braves, and he has done well in his own right this season, so he was a viable candidate for the job as well. The injury does leave the Yanks' bullpen pretty thin at the moment, though. Corey Wade is likely to assume Robertson's role as the eighth-inning set-up man, with lefty Boone Logan's role increasing as well.
From a fantasy baseball perspective, Soriano now becomes a must-own in all formats, as he has an incredible opportunity to become the permanent closer for one of the best offensive and all-around teams in the game.
At the same time, it may be worth hanging onto Robertson and using the DL function in your league if it employs one. Should Soriano falter at all in Robertson's absence, then Robertson will likely still be in the mix. Even if he comes back as a middle man, though, he may be the best in the league in that role and will still have value.
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