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Cubs add former All-Star closer David Robertson to the mix

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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Looking to keep adding veteran pieces, the Cubs picked up former All-Star closer David Robertson – signing the soon-to-be 37-year-old right-hander to a one-year deal.

Robertson has appeared in 673 MLB games dating back to his debut in 2008. He boasts a career 2.93 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 896 strikeouts, 270 walks and 137 saves. Last year he appeared in 12 games with the Tampa Bay Rays and surrendered six earned runs while striking out 16 batters in 12 innings pitched. In the postseason he pitched four scoreless frames against the Red Sox in the Division Series. He also pitched for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics.

What David Robertson potentially brings to the Cubs bullpen mix

Losing Codi Heuer for the 2022 season was a tough blow for the Cubs bullpen, so stocking up on pen arms is important. Robertson has pitched in several roles as a reliever, including closer. From 2014 to 2017 he notched 124 saves while a member of the Yankees and White Sox. Prior to that he helped pitch in late innings before handing the ball over to Mariano Rivera. Since 2018 he has bounced around a bit and not had many save opportunities, including not pitching in 2020 due to recovering from Tommy John surgery he had the year prior.

Robertson has really good strikeout numbers in his career, a 11.9 career K/9 while not throwing 98+ MPH heaters. His cutter is typically around 91-93 MPH with his breaking pitches in the mid-80s.

According to FanGraphs his cutter velocity, the pitch he throws more than any other, was at 92.3 MPH last year, with his career being at 92.6. There has been no drastic change in cutter or curve velocity over the years. It’s worth noting he used to throw an occasional changeup, though he has not thrown that in several years, and will occasionally mix in a sinker and slider.

This will be an opportunity for him to pitch in his first full season since 2018. Even in 2021, he did not sign with the Rays until mid-August. He has pitched in 18 2/3 regular season innings since the start of 2019. If the stuff is still good and his arm is fully healthy then there is a chance for Robertson to be a solid piece for the Cubs bullpen. He is older and we do not know how effective he will be at this point of his career, but this could be a sneaky good move by the front office. Time will tell, of course.

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The closer situation is up for grabs at this point, with candidates like Rowan Wick being a possible frontrunner. If Robertson pitches well off the bat and looks good, then he could possibly slide into that role.

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