The pitching struggles that Mets reliever Hansel Robles experienced before his demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas in May were something that the Dominican right-hander said he thinks all pitchers confront at one point or another at the major-league level.
“I think pitchers sometimes will go through that where they get a little bit lost,” said Robles through a translator Monday at his Citi Field locker, the same day he got recalled by the Mets before the team began a four-game home series against the Cardinals. “That was one of my lows. I think you have highs and you have lows, and that was a low for me. I try to just move past that now and just glad to be back.”
Robles, who gave up a home run in 0.2 innings of work in the Mets’ 6-3 loss the Cardinals Monday, began the season with the big league club, but his ERA soared to 6.23 over 21 games with the Mets in the first month-and-a-half of the ’17 campaign. In 21.2 innings of that stretch, Robles gave up 15 runs on 21 hits, while walking 13 and whiffing 23 batters. The Mets sent him to Vegas so Robles could try and figure out what the problem was.
Mets manager Terry Collins said Monday that at the start of the season, with closer Jeurys Familia serving a 15-game ban for violating baseball’s domestic violence policy, he and his coaching staff thought they would be fine with Robles handling the eighth-inning duties and Addison Reed closing. Then Robles starting getting torched by opposing hitters.
With Mets in need of relief help, Mets call up Rafael Montero
“We thought to ourselves we’re OK because we have (Reed) we can close with and Hansel to pitch the eighth and we thought that was going to work because of what (Robles) has accomplished in the last couple of years here. It just didn’t work,” said Collins. “I don’t know why. (Robles) didn’t make pitches, fell behind, got beat night after night by right-handed hitters by leaving the ball on the inner half and didn’t pitch like we thought he could so we thought had to go down and find that zone again.”
Robles “started to command his fastball” again in Triple-A, according to Collins, which led to the 26-year-old being recalled. While he pitched for the Las Vegas 51’s, Robles was 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA, but he pitched 6.2 scoreless innings in his last five outings.
Collins said if Robles shows consistency in the majors again, “I’m sure he’ll earn” the 8th-inning role back. Robles could also be a key bullpen cog if the Mets’ season spirals downward and they become sellers at the trade deadline. Reed is a free agent at the end of this season, and could be dealt in a potential trade package (Familia is still on the disabled list). For now, Robles is just happy to be back with the Mets.
“I think I always have confidence in myself. Just because I have some bad periods doesn’t mean I lose that confidence in myself,” said Robles.
Walker expects to be out a month, T.J. Rivera to play second base
WALKER ON THE MEND
Second baseman Neil Walker (partial tear left hamstring) ran the bases Monday for the first time since going on the DL June 15, Provided Walker experiences no setbacks, he thinks he is close to playing in rehab games in preparation to re-joining the team.
“Things are moving in the right direction,” said Walker Monday. “I’ve got to run the bases again, make sure there’s no soreness or any issues. Once I get through that, I should be headed back toward some rehab games.” Walker said he might either begin rehab games with an affiliate like Binghamton, or if he begins his rehab assignment while the team is on the West Coast next week, he could play with Triple-A Las Vegas.
Collins said that the “biggest test” for Walker will be Tuesday “when he cools down. (Walker) said the warmer it got, the better he felt.” Walker said he talked with teammates and other players who have had hamstring injuries to get the proper intel on how to rehab and take the necessary care to make sure the injury doesn’t get worse.
“Everything that guys have told me has held true – strength comes back slowly, and when you’re getting ready to run and you start running, things start to feel a lot better. That’s been the case,” said Walker.
Yoenis Cespedes sits out in loss, expected to play vs. Cardinals
He also added that while he’s been on the DL, he’s watched his club struggle, but Walker thinks the Mets are not dead yet.
“The one thing you look for is a team kind of rolling over. That certainly hasn’t been the case. It wasn’t the case last year, and it hasn’t been the case this year,” said Walker. “That’s something that we pride ourselves on here – we’re never out of games, we’re never out of series, you keep grinding, you keep playing for one another and keep trying to put yourself in the best position to win.”
Yoenis Cespedes was in the starting lineup Monday against St. Louis, and Collins said the Cuban slugger is “fine” after Cespedes limped off Citi Field with hip discomfort in Saturday’s win against Colorado and then was rested Sunday. Collins said he won’t ask Cespedes to play any differently when he is on the field, citing the outfielder’s defensive expertise in addition to his big bat.
“This guy won a Gold Glove in left field,” Collins said. “We’ve talked last three weeks about defense, it wins games for you and having Yoenis Cespedes out there with a Gold Glove making some catches, even when he has to leave his feet helps us win games.”
But Cespedes went 0-for-5 Monday and grounded into the game-ending double play.
Send a Letter to the Editor