Right-hander Hansel Robles has been a bright spot in what has become another disappointing season for the Angels, writes Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times. Robles boasts a 1.25 ERA over his past 40 games — tops among AL pitchers with at least 40 innings in that time — and recently set down 27 consecutive hitters over one particularly dominant stretch. Considering that the Angels acquired him via waivers last year, Robles’ emergence as a dominant arm in the ’pen is a particularly positive development. The Mets designated Robles for assignment last June, with manager Mickey Callaway explaining at the time that the “adjustments” Robles needed to make to find consistency were “looking more and more difficult.” With the Halos, however, Robles has refocused on a split-changeup that the Mets pushed him away from. “The movement he gets on it, the shape that he gets on it, his ability to locate it pretty consistently,” pitching coach Doug White said to Torres, “guys have to be ready for 98 and then the changeup comes and it’s really hard to hit.”
Robles leads the Angels with 21 saves and has pitched to a 2.36 ERA with 9.0 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 0.66 HR/9 and a 38 percent ground-ball rate. He’ll get a nice raise on this year’s $1.4MM salary in arbitration over the winter and can is under team control through the 2021 season.
More from the division…
- Jeff Mathis has had a nightmarish season at the plate, hitting just .158/.209/.224, but the Rangers don’t appear to have any plans to move on from the veteran backstop, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Texas signed Mathis to a two-year deal due to his superlative defensive reputation, and manager Chris Woodward lauded the 36-year-old’s work behind the plate and his clubhouse presence. “I would definitely speak up if they were thinking about not bringing him back,” said Woodward. “I would speak against that because what he means to the clubhouse is a lot.” While there’s no quantifiable measure of Mathis’ impact on the clubhouse, the defensive metrics that have long suggested he’s an elite backstop have trended in the other direction. Mathis received negative pitch-framing grades for the first time in 2019, and his -1 Defensive Runs Saved is his only negative mark since 2006. His 17 percent caught-stealing rate is well below the 27 percent league average. At the plate, no player with 200-plus plate appearances has posted a wRC+ lower than Mathis (2). The Rangers owe him $3MM next season, but one could hardly fault them for contemplating a change even if Woodward were to protest.
- The Astros are sending slugger Colton Shaver to the Arizona Fall League to work as a catcher, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic reports (subscription required). Houston’s 39th-round pick in 2017, Shaver ascended to Double-A this season despite that lackluster draft status, and his power and walk rate were hard to overlook. While Shaver’s average suffered because of a 32 percent strikeout rate, he still hit .223/.357/.500 with 15 home runs in an extremely pitcher-friendly Texas League. Shaver has played primarily first base in the pros and was a frequent designated hitter in college at BYU, but he played catcher up until college and approached the Astros about working at the position this past spring. He caught 29 games in the minors this season and will attempt to continue the transition in the AFL. Houston’s system is thin on catching prospects, so a successful transition would be a notable boost for both Shaver and the Astros organization.