After inking Edwin Díaz to a five-year deal to start their offseason, the Mets kept building out their bullpen with a series of moves that only look better now that Díaz is out for at least several months. A day after trading for Brooks Raley, the Mets signed David Robertson to a one-year, $10 million deal. And twelve days after that, the team brought back Adam Ottavino on a two-year, $14.5 million deal.
All three pitchers will appear in higher-leverage situations than they would have if Díaz were beginning the season alongside them. To the extent that experience as a closer matters in how the front office and Buck Showalter plan to deploy them, Robertson has the longest resume as a closer, having racked up 157 saves over the course of his career. The bulk of those—110, to be specific—came between 2014 and 2016 with the Yankees and White Sox. He did notch 20 total saves last year, though, between his time with the Cubs and the Phillies.
Entering his age-38 season, Robertson rebounded nicely from a three-year stretch between 2019 and 2021 that saw him pitch a total of just 18.2 innings at the major league level thanks to Tommy John surgery and his recovery from it.
Over the course of 58 appearances in the regular season 2022, Robertson racked up 63.2 innings and posted a 2.40 ERA along the way. And while his strikeout rate wasn’t quite on the level of Díaz’s last year—to be clear, nobody’s was—Robertson did rank 28th in baseball at 30.7 percent.
On the downside, Robertson had an issue with walks, as his 13.3 percent rate was a few points higher than his career average and ranked fourth-highest in baseball among that same group of qualified relievers. Whether or not the Mets’ front office and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner were the driving force behind Adam Ottavino’s massively improved walk rate last year, it’s intriguing to consider the possibility of what Robertson would look like if he were able to do the same.
In the postseason, Robertson appeared in the Wild Card round for the Phillies before missing the NLDS because of a calf injury sustained during a celebration of a Bryce Harper home run. But he made it back for the NLCS and World Series, the latter of which thankfully saw the Phillies lost. In 7.2 innings of postseason work, Robertson had a 1.17 ERA with eleven strikeouts and five walks
Robertson doesn’t necessarily have to be the Mets’ best reliever in order for the team to find success in Díaz’s absence, but along with Ottavino, Raley, and probably Drew Smith, he needs to stay mostly healthy and at least pretty good.