Hansel Robles....is going to be the most important arm in the Mets bullpen in 2017. With Familia suspended and Addison Reed filling in as the closer to start the season, that slots Robles into the just as important 8th inning bridge role. It is a role that he struggled in Terry Collins called upon him to serve a few times in 2016.
In 22 8th inning appearances, Robles allowed an .848 OPS resulting in a 6.50 ERA. Robles faced 2 problems that contributed to that....A) His poor control as he posted a 6.0 BB/9 rate whenever he pitched in the 8th vs a 3.6 BB/9 in other innings. B) The reduction of the usage and the "quality" of his fastball declined with the elimination of the quick pitch he picked up from LaTroy Hawkins a few years ago. Batting averages against the fastball rose from .180 AVG in 2015 to a .250 AVG in 2016.
There were plenty of positives though from last season despite his issues. Robles did put together a few stretches of brilliance. In the months of April, July, and September.....Robles ERA's under 1.70 each time. The quality of his change-up also improved as he began using it more as a result of his reduced fastball usage. If he can combine 2015's fastball with 2016's change-up that will give the Mets a 3rd closer caliber RP which will deepen the bullpen even more.
Opinion: My guess in Robles is going to step up the challenge and will become a quality reliever this season. He will be a mature 27-year old and knows that a championship team can’t go all the way without three ++ relievers that can handle the 7th, 8th, and 9th inning. The 7th is his to lose and I just don’t see it happening in 2017.