David Robertson

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David Alan Robertson

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Biographical Information[edit]

David Robertson was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 17th round of the 2006 amateur draft. He was signed by scouts D.J. Svihlik and Jeff Patterson for a $200,000 bonus and made his pro debut the next summer.

Robertson made his major league debut with the Yankees in 2008, then emerged as one of the team's most reliable relievers in 2009, when he contributed to the team's World Series title with a 3.30 ERA in 45 games coupled with 63 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings. he kept a clean sheet in five postseason appearances that year, including 2 1/3 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. His ERA rose to 3.82 in 2010, but he still pitched 64 games and again struck out over a batter per inning. In 2011, though, he emerged as perhaps the best middle reliever in baseball, making the All-Star team on the strength of a 4-0 record and sparkling 1-0 ERA in 70 games. He struck out an even 100 batters that season, in only 66 2/3 innings, and gave up only one homer all season. The Yankees had signed former Tampa Bay Rays closer Rafael Soriano to a big free agent contract the previous off-season, with a view to grooming him to eventually succeed the great Mariano Rivera in the closer role with the Bronx Bombers. However, Soriano struggled, and Robertson's tremendous performance pushed him up to the top of the depth chart as Mariano's set-up man.

In 2012, David started the season secure in his role as the number 2 man in the Yankee bullpen and pitched lights out in his first 12 outings, giving up a mere 7 hits and 3 walks in 12 innings while striking out 21 and not allowing a single run. When Rivera went down with a torn knee ligament in a freak accident on May 3rd, it was him and not Soriano who was annointed by manager Joe Girardi to take over Mo's huge shoes. In his first game in the new role, on May 8th, he preserved a 5-3 win over the Rays, striking out Carlos Pena with the bases loaded in nailing his first save opportunity. It was only the 4th save of his career, but it was clear that he had the stuff and poise to rack up many, many more. However, in his second outing in the role on May 9th, things went awry, as he blew a 1-0 9th inning lead against the Rays, loading the bases with none out and then allowing a sacrifice fly by B.J. Upton and a three-run homer by Matt Joyce to be charged with a blown save and the 4-1 loss. He then got more bad news on May 15th when he was placed on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his ribcage. By the time he returned, Rafael Soriano had claimed the closer's job and would end the year with 40 saves. He ended the year with a record of 2-7, 2.67 in 65 games. He then won Game 3 of the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles, 3-2 in 12 innings.

In 2013, Rivera was back for a last season and Robertson was in his familiar role of set-up man. Both men were excellent, with Rivera going out pitching as well as he ever had, and Robertson putting up a 2.04 ERA in 70 games with 3 saves and 77 strikeouts in 66 1/3 innings. He was anointed the new Yankees' closer in 2014 and quickly picked up a couple of saves without giving up a run, but he had to go on the disabled list after his third outing. This time, however, his understudy did not steal his job and he was able to close games again when he returned later in April. His third save was recorded against the Los Angeles Angels on April 26th. He ended up with 39 saves, to go along with a 4-5 record and a 3.08 ERA, with 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings. However, in a surprising development, he opted to leave the Yankees when he became a free agent after the season, instead signing a four-year deal worth $46 million with the Chicago White Sox on December 8th.

Robertson was the closer for the White Sox for two and a half seasons, and while he picked up a lot of saves, the team was never seriously in contention for the postseason, and he was never dominant either. In 2015, he recorded 34 saves while going 6-5, 3.41 and in 2016 he was 5-3, 3.47 with 37 saves. He had very good strikeout numbers both years. In 2017, he had 13 saves along with a 4-2 record and a 2.70 ERA in 31 games with 13 saves when on July 18th, he was traded back to the Yankees in a blockbuster deal that also included 3B Todd Frazier and P Tommy Kahnle heading to New York, in return for P Tyler Clippard and prospects Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo and Blake Rutherford. Robertson was not going to get the closer's job back, though, as Aroldis Chapman was firmly in place; instead, he would be one of two set-up men for the fireballing Cuban, along with Dellin Betances. He did extremely well with the Yankees, going 5-0, 1.03 with 1 save in 30 outings to finish the year at 9-2, 1.84. With Betances struggling with his control down the stretch, he was one of Joe Girardi's go-to pitchers when things got tight, and that is exactly what happened in the Wild Card Game against the Minnesota Twins on October 3rd. Starter Luis Severino was chased in the 1st inning; Chad Green managed to save the Yankees' skin by getting out of a jam in the 1st, but by the 3rd inning was out of gas, forcing Girardi to call on David in a very unfamiliar situation: with one out, the bases loaded and the score 4-3 for the Yankees. Robertson managed to end the inning with minimal damage thanks to a run-scoring ground out and a strikeout, and the Yankees took the lead they would never relinquish in the bottom of the inning. He ended up pitching 3 1/3 innings, giving up no runs and striking out 5 in one of the best performances of his career as New York won the game, 8-4.

Robertson had another good season in 2018, going 8-3, 3.23 with 5 saves in 69 games for the Yankees. he allowed just 46 hits in 69 2/3 innings while striking out 91 opponents. He pitched a scoreless inning in the Wild Card Game against the Oakland Athletics, and 2 2/3 scoreless innings in the Division Series, where the Yanks were eliminated by the Boston Red Sox. Following the season, he was a free agent again and on January 3, 2019 signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies for a minimum of $23 million. He was expected to slot back into the closer's role in the City of brotherly love, displacing Seranthony Dominguez. However after just 7 appearances with the Phillies, Robertson went on the injured list with an right elbow injury, eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery in August which would cost him the rest of 2019 and all of 2020. He returned in 2021 to join the U.S. team for the 2020 Olympics, which were delayed by a full year by the Coronavirus pandemic. After helping the US to a silver medal in the event, he was signed by the Tampa Bay Rays but had no decisions in 12 games, including his first career start after over 650 relief outings, putting up an ERA of 4.50 in 12 innings. He pitched in 3 games in the Division Series which the Rays lost to the Boston Red Sox and did not give up a run in 4 innings.

In 2022, he signed with the Chicago Cubs and took over the closer's job as he was pitching as well as he ever had before. On June 22nd, in spite of the adoption of the universal DH before the season, he got to come to bat for the first time of his career - after 696 major league games. In was in the top of the 9th inning of a 14-5 blowout win against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Bucs had inserted position player Diego Castillo to pitch the final frame. Robertson, who had pitched a scoreless 8th, batted in place of DH Willson Contreras, then gave way to Daniel Norris who pitched the bottom of the 9th. Only three players in major league history had pitched more games than him without a plate appearance, and they were all career short relievers: Buddy Groom (786), Joakim Soria (773) and Bryan Shaw (722). As the seventh batter of the inning, he managed to work a full count against Castillo before whiffing on a high "fastball" clocked at 50.7 mph. However, the strikeout did not matter as he was grinning from ear to ear during the entire at-bat. He went 3-0, 2.23 with 14 saves in 26 games for the Cubs, then on August 2nd was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in return for P Ben Brown. He went 1-3, 2.70 in 22 games for the Phillies, adding another 6 saves, to finish at 4-3, 2.40 with 20 saves in 58 games, with 81 strikeouts in 63 2/3 innings. He made 8 appearances in the postseason, missing the Division Series when he hurt his ankle celebrating the Phils' win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the Wild Card Series. He gave up just 1 run in 7 2/3 innings and picked up a win in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series and a save in Game 1 of the World Series against the Houston Astros. He became a free agent again at the end of the season and on December 9th signed a one-year deal with the New York Mets, where he was slated to be a set-up man for closer Edwin Díaz.

Things did not go as planned for the Mets in 2023. In spite of having the largest payroll in baseball, the Mets were beset by injuries and underperformed badly, the first injury being the season-ending freakish one suffered by closer Edwin Díaz at the 2023 World Baseball Classic. The immediate result was that Robertson was promoted to closer in his stead and while he did record 14 saves in 17 attempts, there were fewer of these than anticipated as other parts of the team were not clicking. As the end of July approached, it was clear that the Mets would be sellers and Robertson was the first one to go, being sent on July 27th to the Miami Marlins for minor leaguers, Marco Vargas and Ronald Hernandez, who were both playing in the Florida Complex League at the time. He went 2-4, 5.06 in 22 games for Miami, picking up another 4 saves. he also returned to the postseason, pitching one inning and giving up one run as the Marlins were swept by his former team, the Phillies, in the Wild Card Series. On January 25, 2024, he signed a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers.

Robertson is the brother of Connor Robertson.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL All-Star (2011)
  • 30 Saves Seasons: 3 (2014-2016)
  • Won a World Series with the New York Yankees in 2009

Further Reading[edit]

  • David Adler: "Why D-Rob is the comeback closer to watch", mlb.com, June 17, 2022. [1]
  • Jerry Beach (Associated Press); "Mets trade closer David Robertson to Marlins for two minor leaguers", Yahoo! Sports, July 28, 2023. [2]
  • Jake Crouse: "696 games later, he gets his 1st at-bat, and well ...", mlb.com, June 23, 2022. [3]
  • Shanthi Sepe-Chepuru and Kennedi Landry: "Rangers agree to 1-year deal with reliever Robertson", mlb.com, January 25, 2024. [4]

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