Mets’ closer David Robertson’s second-half hopes: ‘Stay here and not give up a run’

16 July 2023

David Robertson has one goal for the second half of the 2023 season: “Not give up a run.”

The Mets have been using the right-handed reliever as a closer this season in the absence of Edwin Diaz and he’s been an integral part of the bullpen. Coming into the weekend, the 38-year-old veteran was 3-2 with a 2.06 ERA and 12 saves and a 202 ERA+. The Mets have been able to count on little this year, especially when it comes to relief pitching.

The 4.15 ERA is the seventh-worst in the league, just ahead of the Yankees. The club’s decision to lean heavily on organizational talent and relievers with options has backfired. Robertson and the other high-leverage relievers like left-hander Brooks Raley and Adam Ottavino have been overused at times and gone unused at others.

“By and large, some of the guys pitching late in the game have been called on a lot,” general manager Billy Eppler said Friday. “The scores of our games kind of plays into that a little bit. It’s just kind of a cascading or compounding effect that happens day to day. I’m glad they were able to get some time off and I think some of the off-days that we’re going to have will hopefully position us to be able to utilize them a little bit more regularly. They’ve been pushed and some of them have responded pretty well to it. Others just need a little bit, a little bit more footing.”

Robertson, however, has proven to be as almost as reliable as ever, despite how much the Mets have pushed him.

“He’s been as advertised,” manager Buck Showalter recently said. “I’ll give you an example: He gives up a two-run home run for us [in San Diego] and gets right back on the horse. I can’t tell you how many guys would have walked the next guy on five pitches. But he gets right back in the strike zone and gets two outs so we can get out of there.

“When Robbie gets the right amount of risk, he’s a good locator of the baseball.”

However, Robertson hasn’t been as happy with his own performance as others have.

“Not good enough,” he told the Daily News. “But I’m doing the best I can.”

The home run Robertson gave up in San Diego didn’t affect the outcome of the game since the Mets already had a lead, but the three blown saves and the four other homers he’s given up have bothered him.

“I’ve blown some games, given up runs, had some chances and opportunities to give us wins and that didn’t happen,” he said. “But that’s part of baseball.”

At times this season, Robertson has seemed ageless. The last active member of the 2009 Yankees World Series squad was able to turn back the clock after Tommy John surgery in 2019 and has been happy about his health this season, but little else.

“I’ve thrown the ball in the zone a lot,” he said. “I’ve been healthy this year for the most part. Otherwise, I need to cut down on my walks and force guys to swing at some pitches they don’t want to.”

Still, Robertson might be the Mets’ best trade chip should the club end up having to use the trade deadline as a way to build toward the future. Robertson, left-handed reliever Brooks Raley, right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino and outfielder Tommy Pham would probably top the list of candidates.

It’s starting to feel like a race against time in Queens. The Mets got off to a disheartening start Friday night, getting shut out by the Los Angeles Dodgers in their first game after the All-Star break. The team seems to be coming to terms with the fact that the clubhouse might look a little different by the end of the month.

The goal for the Mets is to try and make one last push, at least enough of one to get back into the Wild Card mix. Robertson hopes to be a part of that and hopes to find himself pitching scoreless innings for the Mets past Aug. 1.


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