The Phillies signed a very good late-game reliever in David Robertson on Thursday.
OK, in what role will he pitch?
General manager Matt Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler were reluctant to tab one person as their closer last season, but they've indicated they may be willing to do that if they were ever to come up with an accomplished closer.
Robertson, who has saved more than 30 games three times in his career, has the résumé.
Will he be the guy?
Klentak was noncommittal.
"He's going to pitch high-leverage innings for us," Klentak said. "That's what he's been doing for most of his career and he's been doing it very consistently, very effectively for a long time. I don't expect that that will change.
"Obviously, the fact that he has experience pitching the ninth inning is something that was very appealing to us. I expect that he will pitch the ninth inning at times but I also know with Seranthony Dominguez and others back there, that we are likely to continue to use guys in a variety of roles late in the game. But make no mistake, we are signing David Robertson to get big outs for us late in the game."
Does Robertson have a preferred role?
"I don't," the pitcher said. "As long as I get opportunities to pitch at the back end of games, I'm happy. Sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth inning …
"I'm willing to pitch any point in the game. Baseball is heading in that direction. There will always be lockdown closers, but there's a good mix of guys like me who will pitch anywhere."
Before signing Robertson, the Phillies pursued Andrew Miller, a lefty who has been very successful bouncing around the late innings, pitching wherever needed in high-leverage situations. Miller signed with St. Louis.
In addition to Robertson and Dominguez, the Phillies are likely to consider Hector Neris as a candidate to close games. He lost the feel for his splitter in 2018 and his confidence suffered. But after a stint in the minors, he came back and dazzled, striking out 35 of the 69 batters he faced over the final six weeks.
However it shakes out, the trio of Dominguez, Neris and Robertson will be busy late in games.
The addition of Robertson gives the Phillies some serious right-handed depth in the bullpen. They could hang on to it because it always seems to come in handy or look to package some of it in a trade. A veteran such as Tommy Hunter or Pat Neshek could be used in a trade.
"I don't know how aggressive we're going to be in shopping our players because we like the group we have right now," Klentak said. "I think if we go into the season with the group we have plus the depth we have, we're setting ourselves up to have a real advantage in the bullpen throughout the year. Having said that, we also know that there may be opportunities to deal from that group to address other areas and we're going to be open to that. I would not say that we are actively engaged on that at this point, but it's something we'll be open to."
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