In assessing Hansel Robles earlier this season, Sandy Alderson did a great job characterizing relievers in general.
“We’ve seen him pitch well,” the New York Mets general manager said. “We’ve seen him pitch less-well.”
That certainly sums up the Angels’ bullpen, of which Robles is now a part. The team claimed him off waivers last month after the Mets designated him for assignment.
With the Angels, he joined a group that at times has been solid and at other times — like Saturday — fragile and even flammable.
With the Angels trailing 2-0, relievers Jose Alvarez and Noe Ramirez retired only one of seven batters faced as Houston scored five times — four on George Springer’s grand slam — to drain the game’s outcome of any doubt.
Entering Saturday, Angels’ relievers ranked 13th in baseball in ERA, 18th in batting average against and 19th in walks plus hits per inning.
They have blown 17 saves, a total topped by only three teams. The league average is 12.6. They’ve also given up 55 home runs, which is the second-most behind the Mets.
All that being said, the Angels’ bullpen has been asked to pitch more innings than every American League team but Tampa Bay, which has been routinely starting relievers for one- and two-inning stints.
The Angels also have lost Keynan Middleton and Blake Wood for the season and been without Jim Johnson since mid-June.
“I think they’ve responded very well,” manager Mike Scioscia said, “especially with some of the guys we had put a lot of faith in…who are injured.”
Robles has been trending in the direction of well. The right-hander has not been charged with a run in eight consecutive outings and 10 of his past 11.
He gave up a homer in his first appearance with the Angels but none in 12 appearances since.
“He’s throwing strikes,” Scioscia said. “He’s getting into good zones. He’s on a good run here. It’s nice to have another power arm you can bring in late in a game.”
Matt Shoemaker’s progression from forearm surgery has been encouraging enough that he said his optimism about pitching for the Angels again this season is “very, very high.”
In May, the right-hander underwent a procedure designed to decompress a nerve and repair a tendon. He is still in the early stages of a throwing program that began 10 days ago.
“I can’t give you a time frame or a date,” Shoemaker said. “But given that we still have over two months…I see myself for sure, if everything goes well and feels great, I’m going to be back.”