Tyler Robertson is left-handed and has a knack for getting a good player out in a tight spot.
Let’s look at a specific scenario.
His June 17 outing against the Baltimore Orioles, Robertson had to face his favorite player growing up—Jim Thome.
It was the sixth inning and the game was tied 2-2. Wilson Betemit singled to center to lead off the inning and there was one out on the board when Robertson entered the game.
He got Nick Markakis to ground out to second and was instructed to intentionally walk former Twin JJ Hardy.
So, Thome comes up to bat with men on first and second.
“We walked a guy to get to a Hall of Famer,” said manager Ron Gardenhire. “[Thome] might be mad at me. It’s not the greatest moment in the world.”
Robertson’s first six pitches: two-seamer (ball), two-seamer (foul-tip), slider (ball), slider (called strike), two-seamer (foul) and slider (ball in dirt).
And with a full count, Robertson’s seventh pitch is a slider.
“That was a fun situation to be in,” said Robertson, who has a picture of himself and Thome sitting in his bedroom at home. “Thome was one of my favorite players growing up so that was pretty exciting. I was ready for the challenge and it worked out.”
“That’s a beautiful thing,” said Gardenhire of the moment. “That’s what baseball is all about.”
He gets excited when he’s asked to face daunting hitters.
And he doesn’t have any problem facing the same guy multiple times.
“I remember in the minor leagues I faced guys in the lower levels, like rookie ball,” he says, “and they’d come up and face me in Double A. I remember specific at-bats. You retain it pretty well.”
In essence, he projects to be a left-handed one-out specialist in the future.
All quotes were obtained first-hand.
Tom Schreier writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com.