Victor Robles shows highs and lows of his game in doubleheader vs. Rockies

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Robles shows highs and lows in doubleheader vs. Rockies originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON — Victor Robles put his potential on full display during the Nationals’ doubleheader with the Colorado Rockies on Saturday.

The center fielder had a career performance in Game 1, collecting a personal-best six RBI on his way to a 3-4 outing that included his first home run of the season as the Nationals won 13-7. He also stole a base and then swiped another in the evening game after legging out an infield single.

“Very excited and very happy that I had the results I had today,” Robles said in Spanish, as translated by team interpreter Octavio Martinez, between games. “Obviously, all the hard work is paying off and I’m very thankful also that our hitting coach, he’s never given up on me, we keep grinding out there and working hard and it’s starting to pay off.”

However, fans in attendance for the nightcap saw the other side of Robles’s game. The Nationals lost 3-2 with two of the Rockies’ runs coming in the third inning when Washington recorded a pair of errors, including one by Robles.

On a ball that landed in front of him with two outs, Robles ignored the cutoff man and tried to throw Rockies catcher Brian Serven out at home only for the ball to hit the mound and bounce into foul territory. That allowed the batter, Yonathan Daza, to reach second base. He went on to score on an RBI single by Charlie Blackmon the next at-bat.

“He’s gotta understand who’s running, the situation of the game, two outs,” manager Davey Martinez said. “We’re gonna keep harping on it and hopefully he gets it and understands. He’s got a great arm, we know that. But, in certain situations, it doesn’t matter how good your arm is, guys are gonna score especially with two outs the guy is running on contact.”

He then came up to the plate in the seventh with the Nationals trailing by a run and a shortstop Dee Strange-Gordon standing on second. The sign came in from the dugout for him to bunt the runner over to third. He tried twice with no success then attempted a third time with two strikes only to pop out, a decision Martinez said he made on his own.

Robles has earned praise from his teammates and his coaches for how hard he works to improve and for his humility even when things are going well. As he showed in Game 1, he still has the tools to be an effective player in the major leagues. But Martinez believes the 25-year-old’s growth is dependent on his ability to make sound decisions in the moment.

“The mental game for him is so much more important,” Martinez said. “If he starts getting that, I think physically he’s capable of doing a lot of different things. Today he hit a home run off his front foot, basically one-handed on a breaking ball, which was in the zone. He stayed behind that ball well. That only shows how strong he is.

“If we can continue to get him to do that and not chase, I think he’s going to be fine. Look, the kid’s struggled and he’s got 19 RBI for us hitting at the bottom. That’s good. We’re going to continue to work with him every day, and hopefully, he gets better.”

Once an everyday player for the club, Robles has found himself in a timeshare with Lane Thomas and Yadiel Hernández for starts in the outfield. Heading into the weekend, he was sporting an OPS just under .600 which was in line with his production over the last two seasons.

With the Nationals in a rebuilding year, they can afford to be patient with Robles and hope he can at least regain the form he showed as a rookie in 2019 when he hit 17 home runs and stole 28 bases with a .255 average and .745 OPS.

“I truly believe in him,” Martinez said. “So does this organization. He’s got unbelievable skills. We’ve just got to try to get it out of him, and we’re going to stick with him. As I’ve said before, there’s going to be days where I’ll give him a little breather. But we want him to be our everyday center fielder. That’s what we look for him to do.”