The Phillies' bullpen could soon get a lift from the addition of Ranger Suarez, but don't count on David Robertson any time soon.
Robertson, barely a year removed from Tommy John surgery, had a setback in his recovery this week, manager Joe Girardi said Friday.
"I'm not sure when David is going to be ready," Girardi said. "He is not progressing as well as Ranger, that's for sure. He's had a setback and we will obviously have more details as time goes on."
Girardi did not expound on the setback. Robertson had been throwing at the Phillies' satellite camp in Lehigh Valley. He was expected to be checked by Phillies medical personnel in Philadelphia on Friday.
A brilliant workhorse during 11 seasons in the American League, Robertson signed a two-year, $23 million contract with the Phillies before the 2019 season and pitched in just seven games before being shelved with elbow problems. He had surgery 54 weeks ago. To make it back this season would have been a very quick turnaround for Robertson, but he was motivated to do so because he was eager to help the team and he'll be a free agent at season's end.
It's not completely out of the question that Robertson will be back sometime next month, but it's probably an extreme long shot because the season is down to 34 games and pitchers generally need a week of rehab for every week they are down. And beyond the question of simple health, pitchers coming back from an injury need time to sharpen their repertoire.
Stay tuned for updates on Robertson as they become available.
Suarez was a bit of a find in the Phillies' bullpen last year. The left-hander went 6-1 with a 3.14 ERA in 37 games and had good success against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .213 batting average.
Suarez pitched well in spring training, but he entered COVID-19 protocol during the shutdown. He has been building strength in Lehigh Valley and is just about ready to go. When Suarez returns, he will be the fourth recent addition to the bullpen, joining Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree and David Hale, who were all picked up in trades last week.
"He's thrown the ball well," Girardi said of Suarez. "These are conversations that we'll probably have (Friday night) to decide what's next for Ranger."
Sounds like he'll be active soon.
As for Suarez' role ...
"I could see myself using him for multiple innings," Girardi said. "I could also see myself using him for matchups, that sort of thing. I won't limit how I use Ranger. Obviously, I know he's behind the rest of our guys. And I probably have to be cognizant of how much I use him. And I probably wouldn't use him back-to-back days right away. But there's not a situation that I wouldn't use him in. He's thrown multiple innings he's thrown two innings so I'm comfortable doing that, but I would also match him up for an inning."