Bryce Harper went hitless in four at bats and struck out twice in the final home game of the season (or “0 for 4, two punchies” as he put it), a somewhat disappointing showing in what could end up being the 25-year-old outfielder’s final appearance as part of the home team’s lineup in the nation’s capital.
It was a rough day at the plate for the 2010 No. 1 overall pick.
The top prospect in Washington’s organization, however, had a big day in what was his 18th game and 10th start since he was called back up once rosters expanded.
Victor Robles went 4 for 5 with a double, a three-run home run, and five RBIs in a 9-3 win in the Nationals’ series finale with the Miami Marlins on Wednesday afternoon.
Robles singled the first time up against Wei-Yin Chen, and stole his second base of the year before he was stranded, then doubled to right on a 91 mph 1-1 fastball he turned inside out, going the other way with a grounder by first that drove in two of the five runs the Nationals scored in the second.
He singled again in the fourth inning, sending a line drive out to left field, then hit a 93 mph 1-1 fastball from right-hander Brett Graves out to left for a three-run blast in the fifth, before popping out in his final at bat of the day.
“I like what I see,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after the game. “He’s full of energy, he can spark our team. There’s still a lot for him to learn, obviously, but I mean he’s going to learn and he wants to learn and that’s a good thing, but I really love what I see.
“Three home runs in a short period of time, that’s pretty impressive. What I like the most is the fact that he’s not afraid to use the other side of the field, which is kind of nice.”
Robles’s three home runs have all come in his last nine games (six of them starts), over which he’s gone 11 for 31 (.355/.375/.774) with two doubles and a triple as well.
His recent run of success at the plate follows a tough start to his time in the majors, which saw the 21-year-old outfielder, who hyperextended his elbow early this season and missed significant time while recovering, go 3 for 20 in his first nine games (four of them starts).
Martinez said he likes the changes he’s seen Robles make in reaction to what pitchers are doing with him now that he’s up again after making his MLB debut last season.
“He has made adjustments up here,” Martinez explained.
“Like I said, the biggest thing was for him to work at bats, and stay in at bats, not chase, and he’s done a good job on that, putting the ball in play.”
Martinez said the two-run double in particular impressed him, with Robles going to right, by first base for the hit.
“Oh absolutely, and he tried to hit the ball that way,” Martinez said.
“He had a man on second and third, no outs, he was trying to get the guy in, but also get the guy over, so it was kind of nice to see him do that.”
Harper has been impressed too, as he told reporters when asked about what Robles and 19-year-old outfielder Juan Soto have brought to the team.
“Those two guys are some of the best young players in the game,” Harper said, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier.
“I enjoy what they do,” Harper continued. “I enjoy what they bring to the clubhouse. I enjoy what they bring to the game, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.
“When you look at [Soto], when you look at [Robles], you see two guys that are going to be possible superstars.”
The feeling is apparently mutual, as Robles said the soon-to-be free agent has helped him adjust to the big leagues.
“Harp has been a great help to me,” Robles told MLB.com.
“I wish him all the best. Hopefully, he’s back, and if he’s not, I wish him all the best. He’s going to be missed if he’s not. He just brings a lot to the game.”
While the idea of Robles slotting right in as part of the outfield with Soto, Adam Eaton, and Michael A. Taylor (or others) if Harper does leave is comforting, but Martinez said there is still work for Robles to do, especially after his injury this season cost him at bats and time to continue developing.
“For me it’s just — his defense, get better on his routes,” Martinez said when asked where there was room for improvement in Robles’s game.
“You saw him steal today, which was pretty impressive. The guy was 1.2, and he stole the base, which was kind of nice, and continue to work good at bats and put the ball in play with two strikes and use the whole field, I mean that’s what he needs to do and what I’ve seen so far and what I’ve known of him, he’s gotten to be really good. He really is.”