The Rays are planning to recall veteran reliever David Robertson to the big league roster before tomorrow evening’s game against the Red Sox, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Active rosters expand from 26 to 28 players tomorrow, so no corresponding move is necessary.
It’ll be Robertson’s first big league action since April 2019. The veteran righty suffered a UCL tear that spring, eventually requiring a Tommy John surgery that wiped out both the rest of that season and his entire 2020 campaign. Robertson tossed a couple showcases over the offseason but ultimately didn’t sign over the winter.
Instead, Robertson was among the handful of longtime big leaguers to join the U.S. National team for this year’s Summer Olympics. He showed well enough there to land a major league contract with Tampa Bay, although he agreed to a temporary assignment to Triple-A Durham to build up arm strength. Robertson has been stellar with the Bulls, tossing six scoreless innings with twelve strikeouts and a lone walk issued.
While it has been almost three years since Robertson was healthy, he was one of the league’s most durable and productive relievers for much of his tenures with the Yankees and White Sox. The 36-year-old owns a 2.90 ERA over 663 2/3 big league innings, and he tossed 60+ innings with a sub-4.00 ERA in every season from 2010-18.
Anything resembling that level of production would be key for a Rays’ bullpen that has dealt with myriad health issues this season. While Robertson will step in as an option for manager Kevin Cash, it seems Tampa Bay can’t count on immediate contributions from either Ryan Thompson or Oliver Drake.
Thompson, who has been out since June 30 with shoulder inflammation, continues to feel soreness and isn’t expected to begin throwing any time soon, manager Kevin Cash told Topkin. Drake, meanwhile, isn’t expected to pitch this season, according to Cash. Drake has been plagued by a flexor strain since last October; he was expected to begin a rehab assignment in July but apparently suffered some form of setback. Both players are already on the 60-day injured list.