Callaway’s Biggest Challenge May Be Hansel Robles
Since he was first called up to the majors in 2015, Hansel Robles has been an enigma for the Mets. For stretches of time, he’s just unhittable. For others, he’s pointing at the sky while another homer clears the wall. For the three years Robles has been performing this Jekyll and Hyde routine, the Mets have been looking for a reliable arm in the bullpen to handle critical innings.
Things got so bad for Robles this year the Mets demoted him to Triple-A in an attempt to straighten himself out. The move didn’t seem to do much good. After being recalled on July 17th, Robles would make 25 appearances going 3-4 with a blown save, a 4.11 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, and a 4.1 BB/9. What’s scary is he is probably due for a regression off of those numbers as he yielded just a .244 BABIP.
Still, there are many who believe in Robles. The reason is Robles has the type of stuff you want in a reliever. He throws a fastball in the mid to high 90s. His throws a hard slider and change-up (even if that’s a big of a misnomer) that has movement. All three of his pitches can generate swings and misses.
You can also trust him against left-handed batters. For his career, Robles limits left-handed batters to a .178/.281/.335 batting line. As a point of comparison, Jerry Blevins, a terrific LOOGY in his own right has yielded a .211/.264/.304 batting line. If Robles was a lefty, teams would be falling over themselves to give him a multi-year deal.
Another overlooked fact is Robles pitches much better at Citi Field. At home, Robles has a 3.35 ERA and 1.148 WHIP allowing batters to hit .209/.294/.385 off of him. On the road, he has a 4.65 ERA, 1.371 WHIP, and batters hit .234/.325/.408 off of him.
Finally, he’s been successful in a myriad of roles. We’ve seen him pitch four innings out of the pen and come into a bases loaded no out situation and get out of the jam without allowing a run. We’ve also seen him implode.
The task now for Callaway is to harness Robles in a way where he looks like the best part of Robles and not the part of Robles that has Mets fans doing their own point to the sky. Essentially, Callaway has to rehabiliate Robles much in the way he once rehabilitated and resurrected Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez.
Having watched Robles for three years, we know that is no easy task. However, it is Callaway’s ability to handle these projects that helped get him this job. If he can unlock Robles like he has done with other pitchers in the past, the Mets bullpen will move from liability to question mark to strength.
Really, pitchers like Robles is part of the reason why Callaway is here in the first place. Hopefully, pitchers like Robles will be why Callaway succeeds as a manger with the Mets.