Mets Notebook: David Robertson records career strikeout No. 1,000 ... ‘It’s a big number’

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WASHINGTON — The Mets’ eventful comeback win over the Washington Nationals on Friday night provided a few interesting milestones, like Drew Smith’s first career save and the third three-run single in franchise history, but there was another one that was lost among the others.

Veteran reliever David Robertson recorded his 1,000th career strikeout when he struck out Alex Call to record the first out of the ninth inning. He then struck out CJ Abrams for career K No. 1,001.

Robertson became only the fourth pitcher to record 1,000 strikeouts only in relief.

“It’s a big number I’ve been chasing for a while but I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to get to it or not, especially after a few years ago,” Robertson said Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park. “I look at it like the accomplishments that [Max] Scherzer and [Justin] Verlander have gotten. They get to 3,000 and to get to 1,000 for a reliever is a big deal.”

It was a milestone he knew was in reach, but not one he had been thinking about a whole lot since the 2023 season, his first with the Mets, began.

“I kind of thought I could get there last year when I rolled over 900 in Chicago and I had no idea that I was even that close,” he said. “Since coming into the season, I knew I had maybe 30 or 40 that I needed to get to get to this point. I try not to look, so I haven’t looked since the beginning of the year, I just knew I was getting close.”

While the 38-year-old Scherzer and 40-year-old Verlander have shown some signs of age this season, Robertson, 38, has been somewhat of an ageless wonder for the Mets’ bullpen. The former Yankees right-hander has stepped back into a role he once played after Mariano Rivera was injured and later on, after the Hall of Fame closer retired. The Mets are using a closer-by-committee approach this season with Edwin Diaz recovering from patellar tendon surgery, but Robertson has been the guy the Mets have turned to in save situations more than any other. He’s converted seven saves in seven opportunities and has allowed only a single earned run in 17 innings (0.53 ERA).

Robertson has also been tasked with eating some middle innings. He went 1.2 innings Friday night and would have gone for that sixth out but he ran out of gas and walked two hitters, prompting the Mets to go to Smith.

The Mets don’t want to rely too heavily on Robertson’s ability to throw multiple innings but they know they can utilize his versatility when they have to.

“We have to pick our spots,” manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s not something we like to do.”

At Robertson’s age, it’s tough to know how much longer he’ll continue to pitch, but he’s content to go as long as he can until either he wins a World Series or his wife tells him it’s time to stop.

Roberston thought maybe he would have to call it a career after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2019, but the surgery revitalized him. The strikeouts seem to energize him each time as well.

“I got a new elbow. That helped a lot,” the Alabama native said. “I was definitely not going to get there without that surgery. I just try to stay in shape, try to keep a positive attitude and when I get in between the lines, try to do everything I can to get those outs. But those strikeouts are big. Any ball that’s not put in play is an easy out.”

However, his first strikeout wasn’t one he considered to be an “easy out.” Oddly enough, it came against the Mets at Shea Stadium on June 29, 2008.

“I faced Oliver Perez, the pitcher,” he said. “Nine pitches, it took a long time. I was a nervous wreck.”


Right-hander Dominic Leone felt elbow discomfort when warming up in the bullpen Friday night, which is why the Mets went to Smith after Robertson. Leone did not undergo any testing before the game on Saturday, opting to play catch and see how his elbow held up.

The Mets are ready to activate left-hander Brooks Raley off the injured list and were considering using Leone’s roster spot, should he have been placed on IL. However, no roster move was made prior to the game, so the Mets will have to wait at least another day to get their only left-handed reliever back in the bullpen.