Earlier today, the Detroit Tigers traded Nate Robertson to the Florida Marlins for minor leaguer Jay Voss. The move is essentially a body dump for the Tigers, since they’ll be paying for 96% of his 2010 salary. That means, the Marlins are getting Robertson for what equates to a league minimum salary and a future lefty specialist.
Not long ago, Robertson was viewed as an important, irreplaceable part of the Tigers’ future. Injuries have since led to this. The Wichita State alum was drafted in the fifth round of the 1999 draft by the Marlins, and later traded to the Tigers prior to the 2003 season for Mark Redman. Redman and the Marlins’ rotation of Method Men combined to lead them to a World Series title. Robertson would have his own high moments years later. How high? Well, he helped the Tigers ascend the ranks and reach a World Series of their own.
Robertson is a southpaw and a 32-year-old one at that. He only started six games for the Tigers last season, but before that had a run of five straight seasons of at least 150 innings which mostly encompasses his career. Such a run of success convinced the Tigers to ink him to an extension worth $21.25M over three years, of which he enters the final season.
Robertson’s career xFIP to date is 4.42, while his regular FIP is 4.74. The 1,000+ inning sample size in a favorable pitching park suggests Robertson’s issues with the long ball might be traced to his struggles with right-handed batters more so than a run of bad luck. Observe his career splits:
Versus lefties: 1,113 TBF, 18.6% SO, 5.3% uBB, 3.34 FIP
Versus righties: 3,491 TBF, 14.5% SO, 8.6% uBB, 5.21 FIP
Odds are Robertson would make a killer reliever against lefties, but the Marlins – excuse me, the Tigers – are paying him to start, so start he will. CHONE projects him at a 4.81 FIP and ZiPS at 4.97. Bump those down a little since he is transitioning to the National League, and maybe, just maybe, he can luck into a 2 win season for the Fish.
As I’ve discussed before though, I fully expect the Marlins to have Robertson lead the league in ERA through July 31st, promptly flip him for something useful, and then watch as he explodes for his new team. There’s magic in them there waters and Robertson has the eyewear to dive right in.
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