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Yankees 2018 Roster Report Card: David Robertson

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2018 was another solid chapter in the story of one of baseball’s most consistent relievers.

Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Leading up to the 2017 trade deadline, the Red Sox were rumored to be interested in acquiring David Robertson and Todd Frazier from the White Sox. Brian Cashman went and got them for himself instead. He made up for a wrong that happened two years prior, and David Robertson was home again.

That late season run from Robertson spoiled us Yankees fans. To say what he did over 30 games last season was remarkable would be an understatement. His 1.03 ERA (442 ERA+...is that even allowed?) and 51 strikeouts over 35 innings were video game numbers. He was also willing to do anything asked of him, evidenced by his 2.2-inning outing on 9/11/17 and his 3.1-inning relief gem in the AL Wild Card Game.

His numbers this year weren’t quite as ridiculous, but still he was one of the most consistent and reliable arms in the bullpen. Robertson once again proved why the Yankees were wrong to let him go in the first place and why they should do everything they can to bring him back.

Grade: B

2018 Statistics: 69 G (nice), 69.2 IP, 3.23 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 11.76 K/9, 3.36 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, 1.033 WHIP

2019 Contract status: Free agent

Good relief pitchers aren’t a rare breed. Relievers who are good for long periods of time are, however. It’s one of the many reasons why Mariano Rivera is so highly respected. It wasn’t just that he was great, it’s that he was so great for so long. I’m not crazy enough to say Robertson’s career is anywhere near Mo’s, but it’s impressive in its own right.

For 10 years now, Robertson has consistently been one of the best relievers in baseball. He’s never really had a “bad” year or off year. 2018 was no exception.

For the most part, Robertson was his usual self this past year. There were a few games where he faltered. He allowed two runs or more in eight of his appearances this year, which led some to doubt him. His worst outing of the year, though, came early on April 1st against the Blue Jays.

That game he was charged with four runs, a blown save, and the loss. He entered the game in the seventh inning, but it was the eighth that really crushed him. With two outs and two on, for reasons unknown to anyone, Robertson and Boone chose to walk Josh Donaldson to load the bases and face Justin Smoak, who hit a grand slam that eventually won the game. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but Donaldson had a tired shoulder and wasn’t hitting whereas Smoak was red-hot. Ultimately, it was Robertson’s choice and it backfired.

But he bounced back. He always bounced back. Whenever he had a rough outing, he still came back and was his normal self. He wasn’t the most dominant of the Yankee relievers, but that didn’t stop Aaron Boone from calling on his number time and time again.

While last year Robertson showed he could be called on for long outings, Boone mostly shied away from that this year. His longest outing this year was a two-inning game on September 16th. It was mostly the status quo for him.

When the Yankees traded for Robertson, one of the upsides was that they had him for this year in addition to last. Now he’s a free agent. For the last decade, Robertson has proved to be one of the most consistent and reliable relievers in baseball. He had a true career year in 2011, where he received some down-ballot Cy Young and MVP votes, but outside of that he’s still been extremely good.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how the Yankees bullpen is in a fragile state this winter. They’re at risk of losing Robertson and Britton, and could potentially lose Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman next winter. They need to act now to keep the bullpen a strength in the long-term.

So far, the team has only really been linked to Andrew Miller this winter. While a reunion with Miller would be nice, he comes with his own injury and consistency concerns. Terry Francona may have broken him. With Robertson, the Yankees know what they’d be getting. In a surprising turn of events, D-Rob got rid of his agent and is choosing to represent himself in free agency this year. Hopefully that bodes well for a reunion with the team.

Like I’ve said before, $30 million/year for 30 years should get it done. Get it done, Cash! Don’t make me suffer through another parting with D-Rob.