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Joe Girardi hopes David Robertson will pitch in 2020

David Robertson could miss the entire 2020 season. (Ian D’Andrea)

If the Philadelphia Phillies are in legitimate playoff contention around the July 31 trade deadline, one area they may look to upgrade is their bullpen. However, there’s apparently hope that an internal option could return in the second half of the summer.

Pitchers and catchers reported to Clearwater for Spring Training Tuesday. With that, new manager Joe Girardi discussed the state of the team’s expected 2020 roster, including veteran reliever David Robertson. 

“Hopefully at some point we get [David] Robertson back,” Girardi said to the collective media, including Evan Macy of Philly Voice. “If we get a David Robertson back sometime in the second half, that’s [like] a deadline trade that can be a difference maker.”

Robertson, 34, signed a two-year/$23 million free-agent deal with the Phillies last offseason, with the thought that he would bring stability to the bullpen. Instead, he gave up four runs in seven appearances before being placed on the injured list with elbow soreness in mid-April. Robertson wouldn’t return in 2019, and ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery in August. 

Girardi, of course, is aware of how reliable Robertson was for the decade prior to joining the Phillies. Robertson was in his second season when the Yankees defeated the Phillies in the 2009 World Series, a team that Girardi managed. Robertson was an All-Star for the Yankees in 2011. Though he left following the 2014 season to sign with the Chicago White Sox in free agency, the Yankees reacquired Robertson in July of 2017, which ended up being Girardi’s final season as manager of the Yankees. 

Given that he didn’t undergo Tommy John surgery until August, it’s hard to imagine Robertson being ready to pitch at the major league level any earlier than August of 2020, and even that may be overly optimistic. With Robertson, the Phillies best bet is probably to hope for the best (that he returns in the final weeks of the regular season and is effective), but expect that he won’t pitch in 2020. 

Certainly, though, the Phillies could use the stability they hoped they would get from Robertson when they signed him. Seranthony Dominguez – who is returning from a UCL injury of his own – is set to headline a bullpen that doesn’t feature much in the way of certain options outside of Hector Neris and Jose Alvarez.


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