When David Robertson was reacquired during the Yankees road trip, it marked an improvement in the bullpen and the Yankees also knew they were getting a pitcher who can pitch in crucial situations at Yankee Stadium.
Robertson was acquired from the White Sox in a deal that sent two-time Yankee Tyler Clippard to Chicago.
Robertson now has Clippard’s locker near the manager’s office.
Robertson now finds himself in a much different Yankee clubhouse than the one he left in 2014. “It had to get younger. It couldn’t get any older when I was here,” Robertson said in a press conference.
Despite the teams’s overwhelming tradition and appreciation of history, the Yankees don’t bring back players for sentimental reasons. This isn’t Ken Griffey Jr. returning to Seattle for a happy ending.
Robertson is not at the end of his career. The former All-Star is still pitching at a high level and under contract through 2018.
Robertson saved 39 games for the Yankees in 2014 and then signed a four-year deal with the White Sox. He saved 71
games in his first two seasons on the South Side, and was 4-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 31 appearances before the trade. He should be well-rested for the stretch run, having thrown only 33.1 innings for the White Sox this season.
If anything, Robertson can ask fellow relievers Aroldis Chapman and Adam Warren what it’s like to put on the pinstripes again. Warren went from the Yankees to the Cubs in the Starlin Castro trade, and then Warren returned in the trade for Chapman. The Yankees re-signed Chapman after he helped the Cubs win the World Series.
Robertson said he felt like the “new old guy” surrounded by 22 and 23-year-olds. “It’s nice to be in a clubhouse that’s got so much energy ,” Robertson said. “There’s just kind of a buzz about this team you can tell just from being here for three days.”
New York has a formidable bullpen with Robertson, Green, Warren, Betances and Chapman. They can shorten a game and put much less pressure on the starters. “Even though I’m the softest throwing guy in the bullpen, which I had to hear the other day in Seattle, I still think I can get the job done and these guys behind me are throwing thunder,” Robertson said. “It’s amazing what they can do.”
Pennant winners of the last 20+ years saw a number of Yankees in their second stint contribute.
Charlie Hayes played at third for the 1992 Yankees but was lost to the Rockies in the expansion draft. Hayes returned to the Bronx and caught Mark Lemke’s pop-up to end the 1996 World Series.
Jim Leyritz was a 1996 World Series hero with his Game 4 homer off Mark Wohlers. Leyritz was on the 1998 Padres team that won the NL pennant and then returned to the Yankees in 1999 and hit the last home run of the 1900s with his blast in Game 4 of the World Series.
Luis Polonia had already been a Yankee twice when he returned to the Bronx in 2000, and singled off Armando
Benitez in the World Series during the Yankees Game 1 ninth inning rally. Luis Sojo, another two- time Yankee, won that series with a Game 5 ninth inning single off Al Leiter.
David Wells was the ace of the 1998 Yankees, and finished third in the Cy Young voting. The lefty was traded to Toronto for Roger Clemens but returned before the 2002 season and went 34-14 over two seasons.
Jeff Nelson was part of the Yankee bullpen in the late 90s and 2000, went to Seattle, and then returned to help the Yankees win the 2003 AL pennant.
And of course Andy Pettitte returned from Houston to pitch six more seasons for the Yankees and helped New York win the 2009 World Series, winning the division clincher, ALDS clincher, ALCS clincher and World Series clincher.
These things don’t always go perfectly. Dynasty reliever Mike Stanton returned briefly in 2005 but was let go shortly after arriving. Javier Vasquez was a 2004 All-Star but was remembered mainly for giving up a grand slam to Johnny Damon in Game 7 of the ALCS. He returned in 2010 and didn’t pitch himself back into the good graces of Yankees fans. Roger Clemens announced from George Steinbrenner’s Box that he was coming back and that he’d see the fans real soon. He signed a $28 million contract to pitch four months and went 6-6 with a 4.28 ERA.
Goose Gossage came back to the Yankees for 11 games in the forgettable 1989 campaign.
And Clippard pitched well in 2016 and early 2017 before a nightmare of a month got him traded.
The 32-year-old Robertson says he’s more mature than when he pitched with the Yankees from 2008-14. “I’m a little skinnier now, trying to be a little healthier. I throw my breaking ball a lot more. I’ll throw just about any pitch in any count to get somebody out. It’s kind of like I’ve become a little craftier.”