Needing to think outside the box for lefty relief help, the Mets may have a solution
The Mets have been searching for a competent left-handed specialist since the middle of March, but have come up empty in each attempt.
But perhaps they’ve had their lefty specialist all along – they just never realized it.
Hansel Robles entered the game in relief of Steven Matz in the seventh inning on Friday night. He was assigned Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Chase Headley.
Robles retired all three of them with ease, inducing a flyball from Ellsbury, and strikeouts from Gardner and Headley.
Robles has allowed only one earned run in his last 12 2/3 innings, and five earned runs in his last 21 innings dating back to July 31.
But there’s more to his impressive performance than just that.
All three of the hitters he faced on Friday were left-handed. After retiring all three, left-handers are now just 9-for-67 with just two walks and 27 strikeouts against Robles this season.
No left-handed reliever has come close to those marks against left-handed hitters for the Mets this season.
He has proven to be incredibly good at throwing inside to left-handed hitters with both his fastball and slider. He has so much electricity and left-handers seem to have trouble seeing and putting good swings on his pitches as a result. The key for Robles is the command of his slider, but he’s established that in the second half and has been mostly dominant during this stretch.
The Mets are very likely to be without Dario Alvarez well into October thanks to injuring his groin earlier this week. With Eric O’Flaherty’s continued ineffectiveness and the Mets being unlikely to delve into their minor league system again to try a solution, they are going to have to look to what they have now for a solution to get left-handed hitters out late in games.
But in Robles, Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard, they may be able to find those outs if the matchups are played properly. They’ve all proven to be effective in getting left-handers out, especially Robles and Clippard.
The problem is it’s unconventional, and it’s hard to go into a playoff series without an established arm on the left side capable of getting left-handed hitters out.
But the Mets maybe forced to think outside the box, since they are really completely out of options at this point in the season with nowhere else to turn.