David Robertson’s tenure with the Philadelphia Phillies may be over.
The former All-Star reliever is out for the season, Joe Girardi announced after Saturday’s win over the Atlanta Braves. The 35-year-old had a setback in recent days as he attempted to come back from the Tommy John surgery that he underwent last August. Girardi’s described Robertson’s elbow as “cranky,” and said that he will be shut down for six weeks, which obviously would leave him without enough time to return during the 2020 season.
From a human perspective, Girardi talked about how important it is for Robertson to be healthy the next time he returns to a mound at the major league level. The two were together for parts of eight seasons with the Yankees, and there is a shared level of respect between them. Still, it’s entirely possible that the next time Robertson pitches in a big league game, it won’t be for the Phillies.
Robertson’s two-year/$23 million free agent deal will expire at the conclusion of the 2020 season. With the news that he’s out for the season, he will have pitched in just seven total games over the lifespan of that contract, potentially ending his Phillies tenure with a 5.40 ERA.
It’s possible that the Phillies will attempt to bring Robertson back in some form for the 2021 season. Tommy Hunter delivered fairly disappointing production in 2018 after signing a lucrative two-year deal in free agency, and injuries limited him to just five games in 2019. After helping him through the recovery process from flexor tendon surgery, the Phillies brought Hunter back on a major league deal for the 2020 season, and to this point, he has a 3.65 ERA and 2.10 FIP in 12 games. Perhaps something similar will happen with Robertson.
Still, Robertson is the latest in a growing list of major moves involving relief pitchers that haven’t worked out for Matt Klentak’s front office. After Saturday’s win, Girardi said that he believed that the Phillies had solved some of their bullpen woes, but added that he would “knock on wood.” As the Phillies attempt to make the postseason for the first time since 2011, Klentak may find himself doing more than just knocking on wood in hopes that the bullpen doesn’t derail the team’s postseason chances.
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