Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Mets are expected to have an eight-man bullpen for the majority of this season, and Hansel Robles should not be guaranteed a spot in the Opening Day version of it.
This isn't a reaction to the four runs Robles allowed to the Astros in one inning of work on Monday afternoon (including a first-pitch homer). Rather, it's a reaction to the 4.92 ERA (5.13 FIP) he posted in 2017 as his walks continued to tick up (a career-high 4/6 per 9) and his strikeouts continued to trend down (a career-low 9.5 per 9).
And yes, I cringed a bit when Robles began his famous "point" on the home run he allowed on Monday before stopping himself.
The 27-year-old Robles, who was solid for the Mets in 2015 and 2016, can be optioned to the minors without being exposed to waivers. And with the Mets having so many potential bullpen arms in camp, having Robles in Las Vegas to start the season is something that should be considered.
Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Anthony Swarzak, and Jerry Blevins are all locks for the bullpen. And it's a safe bet that Paul Sewald will join them. If the Mets' expected starting pitchers all remain healthy, you can likely add Zack Wheeler to the above bullpen group. And if Rafael Montero (who is out of options) is in the bullpen to start the season, it leaves one more spot.
RHPs Tyler Bashlor, Jamie Callahan (acquired from the Red Sox last season in the Addison Reed deal), and Jacob Rhame (acquired from the Dodgers last season for Curtis Granderson) are all on the 40-man roster and competing for a spot in the bullpen. Drew Smith (acquired from the Rays last year for Lucas Duda) is also competing for a spot, but is not on the 40-man roster.
The Mets also have Robert Gsellman as a bullpen option, though he could conceivably open the season with Las Vegas to stay stretched out. Seth Lugo could be a bullpen option as well, but with him pitching with a partially torn UCL in his elbow, bet on the Mets having him continue to work as a starter.
The 23-year-old Callahan made his major league debut last season with the Mets after posting a 2.94 ERA and 1.25 WHIP with 66 strikeouts in 52 innings across two levels of the minors.
Rhame, 24, also made his major league debut with the Mets last season. He had a 4.00 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in Triple-A in 2017 (in the hitter-friendly PCL) while striking out 66 batters in 54 innings.
Bashlor, 24, has yet to pitch above Double-A. Baseball America ranked his fastball as the best in the Mets' minors, but he may need some more seasoning.
The 24-year-old Smith (who the Mets would have to create a 40-man roster spot for) may be the most tantalizing option. Smith has posted a 1.65 ERA and 0.95 WHIP while striking out 157 batters in 139.2 innings and allowing just two home runs during his three-year minor league career.
No matter which way the Mets go, Robles should not be a lock. There are too many young pitchers with high-upside potential who should be given every opportunity to join Familia and the rest of the crew in the bullpen on Opening Day.