The Philadelphia Phillies continued their strong offseason on Thursday, as they signed former New York Yankees closer, David Robertson, to a two-year deal. The contract, as first reported by Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, is worth $23 million in guaranteed money.
Robertson now joins a Phillies bullpen that, up to this point, had been anchored by veterans Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter, while rookie sensation, Seranthony Dominguez, had notched 16 saves in 53 appearances last season. Whether or not Robertson becomes the full-time closer remains to be seen, but as Jayson Stark of The Athletic points out, the Phillies may not officially name any closer at all.
Regardless of who closes out games for the Phillies in 2019, the back end of their bullpen received a major upgrade in Robertson. He has been one of the most consistent right-handed pitchers in baseball since his debut back in 2008 with the Yankees. Robertson holds a 2.88 career ERA with 847 strikeouts and 137 saves thus far throughout his career.
Robertson, 33, features a solid mid-90’s fastball and a devastating curveball, making him extremely effective against right-handed hitters. He threw his curveball more in 2018 than any other year in his career, according to FanGraphs, and it served him greatly throughout the season. Robertson held batters to a paltry .142 batting average against his curveball and notched 68 strikeouts from that pitch, the most he had ever recorded in his career.The @Phillies continued their strong offseason by signing one of the most consistent relievers in @MLB, David Robertson, on Thursday.Click To Tweet
The increased usage of Robertson’s curveball has nothing to do with losing velocity on his fastball, either. Robertson’s cut fastball still hovers around the 92-94 MPH range as it has for the past several years. In fact, his cut fastball average velocity has never dipped below 91 MPH at any point throughout his 11-year career. Not only is his fastball velocity consistent, but so is his ability to stay healthy and reliable. Robertson has appeared in 60 games or more every single year since 2010, making him one of the most durable relievers in baseball.
With all that being said, the Phillies still did not over-extend themselves to sign Robertson. The two-year contract features a club option for a third year, but it also includes a $2 million buyout which will serve as an insurance policy in case Robertson, for whatever reason, begins to show signs of breaking down.
The addition of Robertson now gives the Phillies an upper hand against some of their division rivals who have dangerous right-handed hitters that they must contend with. The Phillies now have an answer when going up against powerful right-handed bats such as Ronald Acuna Jr., Josh Donaldson, and Anthony Rendon, just to name a few from within their division. His effectiveness against an opponent’s best hitters is what makes Robertson such a strong addition to any bullpen, as this stat from Jayson Stark highlights so well.
The Phillies are still said to be in on both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, so their offseason may not be over just yet. However, the addition of Robertson gives the Phillies a much stronger back end of their bullpen for the 2019 season, and that alone is something to be excited about.