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.