Washington Nationals: Victor Robles deserves playoff spot
By Ron Juckett
The top prospect in the Washington Nationals organization is making an October push. Can Victor Robles make the 25-man playoff roster? He should.
In a sport where every action is analyzed to death, the Washington Nationals might make a postseason roster decision purely on instinct and a roll of the dice.
For anyone watching Victor Robles over the weekend as the Nats handled the New York Mets in Queens, you know he is ready for the big show. His instincts are already at a veteran level.
Whether he swings the bat this October is irrelevant. There will be an element of surprise with him, but Robles has never faced pitching as strong as what the National League offers. Whether it is Jake Arrieta, Clayton Kershaw, Robbie Ray or Kenley Jansen, they are above and beyond anything he faced in the Eastern League.
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What Robles contributes to the playoff Nats is speed and defense.
He flies around the bases. Robles can run from first to third with ease on a base hit. The only limits are how eager he is in game situations. There is the chance he can run Washington out of an inning. But, he can score runs too. Along with Howie Kendrick, and possibly Brian Goodwin, the Nats have an element of speed that will tip balances.
If he gets a hit, it is gravy for Washington and Robles’ confidence. Where he will make the most impact is as a late-game defensive replacement.
Sunday, Robles gave a defensive clinic from right field. He crashed into the chain-link fence in right-center by the Nats bullpen to rob an extra-base hit. Twice, he had trouble tracking a high fly ball in the tough September sun only to find it and immediately signal he had the play. Both times Daniel Murphy applauded going back to second base.
To top off the show, Robles threw out Philip Evans napping on a fly out. The throw drew a challenge from the Mets, but it went in the scorebook as a 9-3 double play.
You get the sense Robles does not feel pressure. Some rookies feel the moment and get over-matched. He gives you the sense this is a little league game on an elementary school field someplace in America.
When called up from Double-A Harrisburg, it was a mild surprise. Robles is expected to play in the Arizona Fall League. To earn a brief cup of coffee during a dead part of the season was supposed to be a nice perk. Instead, he turned it into a possible shot at a World Series ring.
Luck plays a part in every playoff series, but Robles gives the Nats a chance of manufacturing it. Could mean nothing or everything. It will be fun.