Hansel Robles returns from exile

The return of Hansel Robles from AAA started off with a bang, unfortunately the bang came from the Cardinals, the reliever yielded a three run homer to the first batter he faced in the Met’s loss on Monday night. But there is still hope for him.

The hard-throwing right-hander figured prominently in the Mets bullpen plans for 2017. He had pitched well from the pen in his first year for the Mets, 2015, with a 3.67 ERA and 61 K’s in 54 innings. On that pennant winning team, Robles shined in the postseason, pitching a hitless inning in the NLDS and two hitless innings in the World Series.

2016 was another excellent year for Robles with a 3.48 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 77 ⅔ innings. However that performance did not carry over into this season. Robles had a horrible 6.23 ERA for the Mets this year, which resulted in him being sent down to Las Vegas.

Robles continued to be belted around in AAA, at least in May and June. HIs overall ERA for the 51s was 5.79. Robles turned his season around in July, and that is the reason he was recalled. In July he struck out six in six and ⅔ innings for Las Vegas, yielding two hits and two walks and exactly zero runs, giving him a 0.00 ERA for the month.

Everyone who follows the Mets knows the relief corps for the team has been a disappointment. If Robles can continue pitching for the Mets as he did in AAA ball in July, that will be a big lift to the team.

One tool Robles brings to the table is velocity. He has averaged around 96 mph on his fastball since he debuted with the Mets in 2015. With Jeurys Familia still on the DL, the Mets do not have any other reliever on their roster with that kind of heat. Fangraphs shows Addison Reed with a 92.7 average fastball velocity, Paul Sewald and Josh Edgin with 91.8, and Jerry Blevins with an 89.4. Granted velocity is just one aspect of pitching, but it will be nice to have a guy who can blow it by hitters with the high hard one.

Robles has been plagued by streakiness for much of his career, including of course this year. One can hope that Robles figured out something in Vegas that resulted in his excellent July. Robles is still pretty young, ( he turns 27 in August), so perhaps the maturity of years will result in more consistency for him.

As noted, Robles got off to a rocky start in his first game back on Monday night. But if he can can show anything like his July Las Vegas form in the big leagues, he will be a valuable addition to the Mets staff. The Mets have a definite need for pitchers they can use in late game high-leverage situations, and if Robles is focused, he can be that kind of reliever.

5 comments for “Hansel Robles returns from exile

  1. Jimmy P
    July 19, 2017 at 9:33 am

    It’s become a truism that relievers are unpredictable, that their performance varies from season to season, month to month.

    A big part of that is because of small sample size. Pretty much any AAAA-quality pitcher can put together a streak of effective innings, 10-15-20. Some luck, some good situations, and some good pitches and suddenly we’re thinking: Hey, Erik Goeddel really put it together!

    Then he has one of those familiar outings where he’s Erik Goeddel all over again and you wonder how he gets anybody out.

    So I think you’ve got to trust your eyes . . . because the stats for relievers are always going to be a little dubious.

    (Funny thing about “trusting your eyes,” I still absolutely believe in it — in my eyes, at least — but it doesn’t work if you don’t understand what you are seeing. The subjectivity is a huge problem, of course. But a good set of eyes, that combine experience and insight, are supremely valuable: scouting. But a dummy watching a game and making observations? Worse than worthless.)

    Robles is so difficult for me because — partly because I’m a sucker for power — he can look so dominant. He goes after guys. He fires away. He can dominant and you can clearly see how he gets guys out. But that kind of ultra-aggressive pitcher will eventually be hurt by the long ball, and it’s his bad luck that Robles is pitching in a new HR era, more balls are flying over the fence than ever before.

    As bad as he’s been in 2017, he’s still better than 3-4 guys currently in the Mets pen, so might as well have him in NY. Last night was a good use for him. A clean inning, as Brian pointed out yesterday, and down 5-0 with the Cardinals not really trying. He struck out two and yet Molina drilled a ball to the wall in deep CF. It turned out okay for him yesterday, but I think it’s emblematic of the kind of pitcher we’ve got in 2017. Sometimes they are going to hit it a long way.

  2. MattyMets
    July 19, 2017 at 9:47 am

    I think we’re looking back at Robles’ prior years through rose colored glasses – tinted by the ineffectiveness of this year’s bullpen. Yeah he throws hard and strikes guys out, but he’s never been consistently reliable enough to be a quality set up man. We’ve rolled the dice with him in the 7th inning and extra innings but he’s never been better than our third or fourth option. I don’t care how hard he throws. He hasn’t learned how to pitch. He’s a classic 2-pitch reliever who relies only on a hard fastball and decent slider. With no mix of speeds and less than great accuracy he makes a lot of mistakes with belt high fastballs.

    I used to say about Shaquille O’Neal that if he were six inches shorter he’d be delivering UPS packages. Same story for Robles if he had just a few less ticks on his fastball.

    • Jimmy P
      July 19, 2017 at 11:13 am

      I think that’s accurate. But I still feel many of us hoped — with some coaching — he could make that leap. It’s wasn’t that far to jump.

      As I mentioned to a friend in a similar discussion, it could be that he’s an imbecile. I’m checking the “maybe” box on that one.

      Sure, it didn’t hurt Pete Rose, but it can’t help on the mound.

    • John Fox
      July 19, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      Matty I think a reliever can be effective with a 2 pitch repertoire, traditionally if a pitcher had 3 or more pitches he could rely on he was starter material, less than that was usually made into a relief pitcher

  3. ed
    July 20, 2017 at 10:39 am

    He needs another pitch – cause when the slider aint working he only throws heat and everyone just looks for the one that they like.

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