Collins explains Robles' 4-out save

Manager says rare spring decision was due to pitch limit on replaced pitcher

March 5th, 2016

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Down by a run to the Mets in the bottom of the eighth inning on Saturday at Osceola County Stadium, the Astros started a two-out rally. Eury Perez walked. J.D. Davis singled.

And, with that, Mets manager Terry Collins made a pitching change, a relatively rare Grapefruit League move. Hansel Robles came out of the bullpen to replace Jeff Walters and promptly struck out Derek Fisher to end the inning. He then survived a white-knuckle ninth to earn the save for the Mets' 3-1 win.

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So, was Collins testing Robles, who allowed just 37 hits in 54 innings as a rookie last year?

Not exactly. Walters had Tommy John surgery in 2014, and Collins simply didn't want him to throw more than 20 to 25 pitches. On the other hand, he admitted that there will be times when closer Jeurys Familia won't be available this season and that Robles could be an option in those situations.

"When Jeurys is off, we're going to need some guys to pitch the back end of the bullpen. And he's one of those guys," Collins said after the game. "The more experience he gets, the better he's going to feel out there. He's got a great arm. You saw two very, very good sliders right there at the end of the game that he's got. So his pitches are getting better, and I've said it before. "

That was a reference to Robles' strikeout of Jon Singleton to end the game after two walks had put the potential tying run in scoring position.

The slider is a big pitch for Robles, but Collins is looking for improvement in all areas.

"He's getting better. You saw the movement on it. But in the big leagues you can't live with one pitch, unless it's a hundred miles an hour," Collins said. "So he's got to use all his pitches, he's got to use both sides of the plate, he's got to throw them for strikes. And I think the more he uses them, the better he's going to be. He came a long way last year. He grew up. The influence of Jeurys and Bartolo [Colon] on him, he really grew up."

Worth noting

• Second baseman Dilson Herrera is hitting .429 after going 1-for-3 against the Astros on Saturday.

"He got my attention two years ago when I first saw him," said Collins. "He's got a lively body. Big power. We're going to lose him for a few weeks [when he plays for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic qualifying round] but he's going to help us this summer."

• The Astros observed a moment of silence for Shannon Forde before Sunday's game. Forde, the Mets' beloved senior director of media relations, passed away Friday night after a long battle with cancer.