David Robertson is my favorite Yankee. It was during his first stint with the team, and when the Yankees chose not to bring him back it hurt. I remember I was in India for a friend’s wedding when the news broke and I took some time to myself because the Yankees were jerkstores. Andrew Miller was an admirable replacement but then even he was gone and I promised myself I’d never love a reliever again.
Then the night of July 18, 2017 came and the White Sox were supposedly close to a deal with the Red Sox which would’ve sent Robertson and Todd Frazier to Boston. That’s when Brian Cashman swooped in. Cashman knew I was mad at him for letting Robertson go in the first place, but he wasn’t going to let me get angrier by allowing him to put on those filthy red socks.*
Brian Cashman traded Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo, and Tyler Clippard (LOL) for Robertson, Todd Frazier, and got Tommy Kahnle to sweeten the pot as well. All of a sudden my rage at the prospect of Robertson possibly playing for the Red Sox turned into tears of joy. My sweet prince was home.
In his first appearance for the Yankees, Robertson came in against the Mariners and pitched a perfect inning in which he struck out the side. Robertson put on those pinstripes again, Clint Frazier gave him his old number 30 back, and everything felt right. A season that was already sweet due to the emergence of Aaron Judge, the redemption of Luis Severino, and the continuation of Gary Sanchez somehow got that much sweeter.
It didn’t take long for Robertson to emerge back into Joe Girardi’s inner circle of trust. When Aroldis Chapman temporarily lost his job as the Yankees closer, Girardi went with Robertson and Dellin Betances to close on a situation-by-situation basis. In the playoffs, Robertson was Girardi’s most-trusted reliever.
Overall for the season, Robertson had a 1.84 ERA (241 ERA+) with 98 strikeouts and just 23 walks. With the White Sox Robertson pitched to a 2.70 ERA (161 ERA+) and 47 strikeouts across 33.1 innings but his numbers became laughably better upon coming to the Yankees. With the Yankees, Robertson had a 1.03 ERA (442 ERA+...what even is that?) with 51 strikeouts across 35 innings. Basically, he was playing a video game.
Not only were his numbers incredible, he was doing things he had never done before. On September 11th against the Rays, Girardi asked Robertson to pitch in long relief. Robertson pitched 2.2 scoreless innings with four strikeouts and only allowing one hit. If that was impressive, it was quickly forgotten by another absolute beauty.
In the Wild Card Game, he set a career high in innings pitched with 3.1 and pitches thrown with 52. He got five strikeouts in that scoreless outing, while allowing three hits and just one walk. It was exactly what the Yankees needed from him even if they didn’t know he could do it. I was fortunate enough to be there to witness this outing and it was just as beautiful in person as it looked on TV. That game also gave us the amazing image at the top of this post and this wonderful exchange:
I've never felt another man's pain more https://t.co/DNHzXeLjaU— David Robertson (@DRob30) October 4, 2017
He and Chad Green combined to take the life out of the Twins. By the time Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman came in to close the game out, there was no chance. It started with Green but without Robertson stepping up, who knows if the Yankees go on to beat the Twins and advance as far as they did in the postseason.
The story of David Robertson was simple. He came home and provided Yankee fans with the sense of comfort and relief that he did during his first go around with the Yankees. Fortunately, he’ll still be around next year, and hopefully after that as well. I don’t know that I could go through him leaving again.
*This part of the story MAY be fiction. But it may not be either! I choose to believe it’s true. Although, it’s definitely fiction.
**Season statistics provided courtesy of Baseball Reference.