KANSAS CITY -- David Robertson said an injury that sidelined him for 11 days in July has had no impact on his recent struggles.
If anything, the White Sox closer has felt good from a physical standpoint even as he has amassed a 7.36 ERA in his last 11 innings pitched. In that span, Robertson -- who didn’t pitch from July 7-17 because of a leg injury that occurred right before the All-Star break -- has blown four of eight save tries, including the past two games against the Kansas City Royals. Robertson, who converted 23 of his first 25 save chances this season, said he simply hasn’t been able to make the same kind of outpitches that he consistently has throughout his career.
“I’m in bad counts right out of the gate,” Robertson said. “Then I feel like whenever it’s time to make the quality pitch to get the out, I’m not making it. It’s frustrating for me because my whole career I’ve been able to escape jams. Whenever I make a mistake, I’ve been able to get out of it.
“It seems like it’s coming back to bite me in the ass. I can’t seem to get out of one lately.”
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
Robertson has walked five batters in his last 11 innings and has issued 4.75 walks per nine this season, his highest total since 2011. His career mark is 3.64 walks per nine innings.
Another noticeable difference is the damage hitters have done against him over the last month. From the start of the season to July 17, opposing hitters had a .163 slugging percentage when Robertson threw his curveball and a .369 slug against his cut-fastball. Only two of the first 164 hitters Robertson faced this season hit home runs.
Starting with his July 18 appearance, batters have a .556 slugging percentage when Robertson throws a curve and .652 versus the cutter. He has also allowed four homers in a span of 41 batters.
Pitching coach Don Cooper thinks perhaps Robertson’s delivery angle is the culprit.
“The only thing with David is he can get his angle too high,” Cooper said. “Last year when he wasn’t good, he got his angle too high, which did not allow the ball to cut as freely, didn’t allow the curve to curve as freely.”
Robertson said the only adjustment he has made is with where he sets his hands when he comes set. Meanwhile, the White Sox intend to keep Robertson, who is in the second season of a four-year, $46-million deal, as their closer. White Sox manager Robin Ventura said the team absolutely believes Robertson will rebound.
“(The role is) not going to change,” Ventura said. “Regardless if it’s him or (Nate Jones) in the eighth, you have to find somebody else to do it at some point. We’ve used these guys quite a bit so that is always the possibility of doing that. But not out of just sending him out of the ninth inning.”
Though disappointed by the past three weeks, Robertson is also confident his season will turn around.
“I’m not pitching the way I should be,” Robertson said. “I’m not attacking the zone and staying on the corners and keeping guys off balance. I feel like they are a little comfortable in the box on me. Walks are hurting me as well. I just have to pick up my game and start pitching better.
“I’m going to get more opportunities so at some point it’s going to turn for me and hopefully I’ll get on a roll. Right now I’ve been doing a poor job out there and I need to pick it up.”