Robles Should Be the Eighth Inning Guy

This time of year we get announcements that seem like news. When they’re said, it had to be covered because it is the team making an announcement. For example, when the Arizona Diamondbacks announced Zack Greinke as their Opening Day starter, it was met with a collective eye roll. 

I felt the same way when the Mets announced Hansel Robles would most likely make the Opening Day roster

Of course he is. Robles kept getting better and better last year. In the second half, he pitched 31.1 innings in 31 appearances. He had a 3.16 ERA with a 0.894 WHIP and a 12.1 K/9. He limited batters to a .171/.246/.450 batting line. Over the whole year, he showed an ability to get both righties and lefties out.

The issue isn’t whether Robles will be on the Opening Day roster. It should be what his role should be. Robles should be given the eighth inning. 

Right now, that spot is being given to Addison Reed. For his career, Reed has a 4.01 ERA, 1.261 WHIP, and a 9.3 K/9. Like Robles, he is effective against righties and lefties. However, his performance is typically uneven over the course of a year. 

The other option is newly signed Antonio Bastardo.  In his career, he has a 3.58 ERA, 1.198 WHIP, and an 11.0 K/9. Although he’s a left, he shares Robles’ and Reed’s ability to get both righties and lefties out. The one caution with Bastardo is he seems to be an every other year player. Following his ERAs, his ERA is around 4.00 in even numbered years, and it is under 3.00 in odd numbers years. His ERA+ in those years support the every other year scenario. We’re heading into the 2016 season. 

Just judging on the statistics, Robles should pitch the eighth inning. However, 31 appearances is a very small sample size to make such a judgment.  It’s even more so when you consider that you’re moving him ahead of two established relievers the Mets are paying quite well. There’s so thing else to consider, Robles has dominating stuff. 

Robles repertoire includes a 96 MPH fastball, 87 MPH change, and an 88 MPH slider. Each one of these pitches became more effective as Robles learned how to incorporate the quick pitch.  That quick pitch is another reason why Robles should pitch the eighth. 

Jeurys Familia also likes to use the quick pitch. It’s come to the point that batters are aware that he’ll do it. They have to come prepared each and ever at bat. Same goes for when Robles is on the mound. The Phillies will tell you that goes doubly for Familia. 
However, it’s one thing to prepare for it. It’s a whole other thing to have seen it in an earlier at bat.  If Robles comes in during the sixth or seventh inning, he’s bound to use the quick pitch. He needs to use it to be his most effective. Whether or not Familia needs it is a whole other question all together. He likes using it. 

A batter having seen the quick pitch in a game is bound to be more prepared for it later in the game. The batter will be most prepared for it when the game is on the line. With that said, why let these batters be better prepared to face Familia’s quick pitch?  The Mets shouldn’t. Instead, the Mets should keep Robles and Familia as close together as possible. 

Robles has the stuff. He has the results. It’s better for Familia. Robles should pitch the eighth in 2016.