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Bring Back Jerry Blevins

One of the resounding themes from the 2016 season has been how incredible it was the Mets made it back to the postseason despite Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz needing season ending surgeries. However, that didn’t mean the Mets didn’t have good pitching that led them back to the postseason. In addition to Noah Syndergaard and Bartolo Colon, the Mets had a terrific bullpen that helped them maintain leads when the Mets weren’t getting hits with runners in scoring position, and they helped buttress the young starting pitching that couldn’t go quite as deep into games. While it is imperative the Mets starters come back healthy next season, it is equally as imperative that the Mets bullpen return in tact next year.

This means the Mets need to re-sign Jerry Blevins.

Coming into the 2016 season, Blevins had a reputation of only being a LOOGY. It was with good reason. During his career, Blevins has limited left-handed batters to a .214/.266/.322 batting line whereas right-handed batters have been a more robust .243/.332/.387 against him. In 2016, that began to change.

In Blevins 73 appearances with the Mets, he was actually better against right-handed batters than he was against left-handed batters. Blevins would face right-handed batters 65 times, and he would limit them to a .182/.266/.345 batting line. Granted, it is a small sample size, but there were some things Blevins did to induce those results. First, he scrapped his cutter, which was not an effective pitch for him at all against right-handed pitching. In turn, he used his curveball and changeups at a higher rate, which led to a higher strikeout rate and fewer line drives.

What this meant was the despite your prototypical LOOGY, you could trust Blevins to pitch a right-handed batter between two left-handed batters. It took some of the hand wringing out of which batter should you deploy your weapon. It also allowed you to rest some bullpen arms because you knew you could trust your LOOGY to actually go out and throw an inning unlike other LOOGYs.

Despite Blevins’ remarkable turn-around against right-handed batters, he is still a LOOGY, and as a LOOGY it is his job to get the big left-handed batter out in a big moment in the game. For his career, Blevins has been terrific in those situations:

  • .228 batting average against with RISP
  • .226 batting average against in late and close games
  • .218 batting average against in high leverage situations
  • .220 batting average against in innings from the seventh inning on

* late and close and high leverage situations are as defined by Baseball Reference

We saw this in action when time and again, Blevins limited the damage in games. Overall, Blevins only allowed 14.5% of inherited runners to score this season, which was the best on the team (40 IP minimum). That number is all the more impressive when you consider he inherited more runners than anyone on the Mets staff. In fact, Blevins inherited the second most runners in all of baseball this past year. Out of the pitchers that inherited over 50 batters in 2016, Blevins had the third best rate in preventing runners to score. It should come as no surprise then that he stranded the second most batters in the major leagues. Fo

Overall, when you have a pitcher who gets lefties out, is improving better against right-handed batters, and is at his best in high leverage situations, that is a guy you need to keep in your bullpen.

There is an other important reason to keep Blevins. The Mets don’t have another option. At one point, Josh Edgin was considered to be the LOOGY of the future. Unfortunately, he needed Tommy John surgery before the 2015 season (which ironically was part of the reason the Mets traded Matt den Dekker to obtain him). Edgin was able to pitch this season, but he has not fully regained his velocity. As a result, he wasn’t effective getting lefties out in AAA or the majors this season.

The other notable option is Josh Smoker. However, Smoker is a lefty with reverse splits. Effectively speaking, Smoker is a guy you bring in for the big strikeout, but he is not the guy you bring in to get the big left-handed batter out.

With the Mets having little to no internal options, and with Blevins being an effective LOOGY in his career, the Mets should make it a priority to re-sign him in the offseason. Fortunately for the Mets, Blevins has said he would like to return.amp;utm_source=direct&utm_medium=linker-” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz needing season ending surgeries.  However, that didn’t mean the Mets didn’t have good pitching that led them back to the postseason.  In addition to Noah Syndergaard and Bartolo Colon, the Mets had a terrific bullpen that helped them maintain leads when the Mets weren’t getting hits with runners in scoring position, and they helped buttress the young starting pitching that couldn’t go quite as deep into games.  While it is imperative the Mets starters come back healthy next season, it is equally as imperative that the Mets bullpen return in tact next year.

This means the Mets need to re-sign Jerry Blevins.

Coming into the 2016 season, Blevins had a reputation of only being a LOOGY.  It was with good reason.  During his career, Blevins has limited left-handed batters to a .214/.266/.322 batting line whereas right-handed batters have been a more robust .243/.332/.387 against him.   In 2016, that began to change.

In Blevins 73 appearances with the Mets, he was actually better against right-handed batters than he was against left-handed batters.  Blevins would face right-handed batters 65 times, and he would limit them to a .182/.266/.345 batting line.  Granted, it is a small sample size, but there were some things Blevins did to induce those results.  First, he scrapped his cutter, which was not an effective pitch for him at all against right-handed pitching.  In turn, he used his curveball and changeups at a higher rate, which led to a higher strikeout rate and fewer line drives.

What this meant was the despite your prototypical LOOGY, you could trust Blevins to pitch a right-handed batter between two left-handed batters.  It took some of the hand wringing out of which batter should you deploy your weapon.  It also allowed you to rest some bullpen arms because you knew you could trust your LOOGY to actually go out and throw an inning unlike other LOOGYs.

Despite Blevins’ remarkable turn-around against right-handed batters, he is still a LOOGY, and as a LOOGY it is his job to get the big left-handed batter out in a big moment in the game.  For his career, Blevins has been terrific in those situations:

  • .228 batting average against with RISP
  • .226 batting average against in late and close games
  • .218 batting average against in high leverage situations
  • .220 batting average against in innings from the seventh inning on

* late and close and high leverage situations are as defined by Baseball Reference

We saw this in action when time and again, Blevins limited the damage in games.  Overall, Blevins only allowed 14.5% of inherited runners to score this season, which was the best on the team (40 IP minimum).  That number is all the more impressive when you consider he inherited more runners than anyone on the Mets staff.  In fact, Blevins inherited the second most runners in all of baseball this past year.  Out of the pitchers that inherited over 50 batters in 2016, Blevins had the third best rate in preventing runners to score.  It should come as no surprise then that he stranded the second most batters in the major leagues.

Overall, when you have a pitcher who gets lefties out, is improving better against right-handed batters, and is at his best in high leverage situations, that is a guy you need to keep in your bullpen.

There is an other important reason to keep Blevins.  The Mets don’t have another option.  At one point, Josh Edgin was considered to be the LOOGY of the future.  Unfortunately, he needed Tommy John surgery before the 2015 season (which ironically was part of the reason the Mets traded den Dekker to obtain him).  Edgin was able to pitch this season, but he has not fully regained his velocity.  As a result, he wasn’t effective getting lefties out in AAA or the majors this season.

The other notable option is Josh Smoker.  However, Smoker is a lefty with reverse splits.  Effectively speaking, Smoker is a guy you bring in for the big strikeout, but he is not the guy you bring in to get the big left-handed batter out.

With the Mets having little to no internal options, and with Blevins being an effective LOOGY in his career, the Mets should make it a priority to re-sign him in the offseason.  Fortunately for the Mets, Blevins has said he would like to return.  Even with that said, the Mets are not optimistic a reunion could happen.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Merized Online

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