Phillies hoping to get David Robertson back this season

David Robertson #30 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
David Robertson #30 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Phillies shouldn’t be holding their breath when it comes to David Robertson

Phillies manager Joe Girardi sounded slightly optimistic that high-priced reliever David Robertson could make a comeback this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August.

Girardi likened the possibility of getting Robertson back to a trade deadline move for a guy who has closed and set up in big games.

“Hopefully at some point we get (David Robertson) back, that’s a huge addition. You get a David Robertson back some time in the second half that’s a deadline trade that can be a difference-maker… He’s doing great. If you ask him and you ask our training staff he’s doing fabulous but he’s driving them nuts because he wants to get on the mound. Right? And he’s not to that point. He’s healing great and we’re excited at where he’s at.”

While getting Robertson back would be fantastic for the Phillies, it’s very unlikely he does anything other than make a couple of September appearances pitching at 80%.

It’s hard to compare players coming off injuries, but Tommy John surgery typically takes 18 months to recover from. If Robertson were to come back in September he’d be less than 13 months removed from surgery.

Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery underwent the same surgery in June 2018 and appeared in two games in late September 2019. In his first big league appearance, he allowed three runs off four hits in two innings.

Everyone recovers differently, but it’s a stretch to expect anything significant in the regular season from Robertson. Hopefully, the Phillies aren’t relying on the thought that he could come back this year, although it appears they are feeling that way about other relievers on the roster.

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Morgan suffered a strained left flexor tendon and missed most of last season, while Dominguez is nursing a UCL injury, which typically leads to Tommy John surgery. Their workload will be light in spring training and potentially early in the season, something Girardi hinted at in his spring training opening press conference.

There will certainly be options if the Phillies don’t get their guys back for the start of the season. Francisco Liriano, Bud Norris, Drew Storen, Blake Parker, Tommy Hunter, Anthony Swarzak and Reggie McClain were brought in to compete for big league jobs.

If the Phillies can’t get Robertson back, they’ll have paid $21 million for seven games and a career-worst 5.40 ERA>