A high leverage reliever and one of the best defenders in baseball have been added to the Rays roster.
It’s September first, which means Major League rosters are expanding to allows teams to have 28 players on their active rosters.
Thus, the Rays have selected the contract of veteran right-handed pitcher David Robertson from Triple-A Durham, also with the best defensive shortstop in all of baseball, Taylor Walls (this is not an opinion, just a statement of fact).
The Rays signed Robertson two weeks ago following the completion of the Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan. During the games, in which Team USA won a silver medal, Robertson impressed out of the bullpen. Robertson did well enough to warrant the Rays signing him to a one year, $2M contract (prorated to where he’ll make $500K).
Once Robertson takes the mound for the Rays, he’ll officially pitch in his 13th season in the Major Leagues. During the prime of his career, he served as an invaluable high leverage arm in the backend of the New York Yankees bullpen, helping to to up the final saves of Mariano Rivera’s career.
From 2009 through 2018, Robertson pitched in 629 games and compiled a 2.76 ERA / 2.77 FIP with a 32.6 K% over 626 2⁄3 innings pitched. Unfortunately, in 2019 while as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, Robertson would undergo Tommy John surgery, which effectively shelved him from competition until 2021.
Once healthy, Robertson joined Team USA as a way of reestablishing his value.
Now, Robertson is back in the big leagues after an impressive — albeit brief — stint with the Durham Bulls. Over six appearances, Robertson struck out 12 of the 22 batters he faced. Meanwhile, he allowed just four base hits and one unearned run crossed the plate during his six innings pitched.
Taylor Walls rejoins the Rays after just over a month spent with Triple-A Durham. During his 39 game stint with the Rays earlier this season, Walls hit .212/.315/.327 while showcasing some dazzling defensive capabilities that helped him to accrue 0.6 fWAR, despite the below average offensive production.
Walls has only registered 298 1⁄3 innings in the field this season for the Rays, but has still accumulated 9 Total Runs Saved according to the Fielding Bible, which ranks him 4th among all shortstops this season; the three players above him have all logged nearly 700 more innings in the field this season.
Having both Walls and Robertson on the active roster will be a significant boost to Kevin Cash and his in-game strategy. Taylor Walls can be a game changer as a late inning defensive replacement while Robertson gives Cash yet another arm to turn to in high leverage situations.