Jerry Blevins is not a LOOGY

Jerry Blevins is many things – an effective reliever, an affable player well-liked by teammates and fans, a prolific tweeter, a funny sock wearer, and a new dad. He is not, however, a LOOGY. Over the past two seasons as a Met, the lefty appeared in 148 games, totaling 91 innings. That works out to a bit more than .2 innings per appearance. A quarter of the way through the 2018 season, Blevins has appeared in 20 games (roughly the same pace) but covering just 8.1 innings. The discrepancy is explained as he has really been utilized by Manager Mickey Callaway as a specialist who usually comes in and faces just one lefty batter before giving way to a right-handed reliever. Terry Collins sometimes took this approach as well, but not always. This year, Blevins has been used exclusively as a classic LOOGY (Lefty One-Out GuY) and this is a mistake that has been reflected in his performance thus far – 5.40 ERA.

Over the course of his career, Blevins has made 520 appearances with a near equal number of at bats from lefty and righty hitters. Lefties have hit just .213 against him, while righties have hit .246. Perhaps those are the numbers that Callaway has been looking at, but they’ve been trending in the other direction in recent years. Since joining the Mets in 2015, Blevins has been holding lefties to an impressive .212 batting average over 264 at bats, but righties haven’t done much better. Though they’ve had roughly half as many at bats against him, righties have hit just .225. Indeed, Blevins can and should be brought in to pitch complete innings – just as most of the righties in the Mets bullpen.

In fact, some of the righties on the staff have shown reverse splits in their careers; that is, they’ve had better success against left-handed hitters. AJ Ramos has held lefties to a .199 batting average for his career. Lefties have hit .36 points lower against Robert Gsellman and .28 points lower against Seth Lugo for their careers. Anthony Swarzak has also fared better against lefties. Paul Sewald is the notable exception, allowing lefties a .70 higher batting average over his two seasons as a Met.

So, what’s to be done? First, Callaway needs to begin using Blevins and Ramos the right way – as full inning relievers, not specialists. This will not only render them more effective, but will ultimately limit the number of games they pitch in. Second, if he feels it necessary to have a LOOGY in his bullpen, then perhaps Sandy Alderson should get him one. Otherwise, Callaway will continue trying to drive screws in with a hammer.

 

 

3 comments for “Jerry Blevins is not a LOOGY

  1. May 25, 2018 at 10:00 am

    The last thing we need to do is add another lefty pitcher to perform in the LOOGY role to the roster. We need to develop another Lugo/Gsellman/Sewald to pitch multiple innings.

    Everyone acts like Blevins has been bad in this role this season. He’s been about as good as he was last year, with the exception that he’s faced two guys a disproportionate amount of times.

    Blevins has no special ability against Freddie Freeman and Bryce Harper throughout his career and should not be used against those two guys.

    This year, those two are 3-5 with a double and a walk against Blevins and one of the outs was a ball caught one step from the wall.

    The rest of the lefties that Blevins has faced are a combined 3-18 with a double and two walks. If my math is right, that’s a .167/.250/.222 line for a .472 OPS against. Last year against LHB, Blevins had a .197/.250/.205 line against lefties for a .455 OPS.

    The maddening thing about Collins is he would look for any opportunity to deploy his LOOGY. Made no difference what the score was, how well the starter was going or the LOOGYs history against the batter. That’s what we need to get away from.

    But if Nick Markakis comes to the plate in a high leverage situation – I want Blevins in there to face him. The challenge is to limit the LOOGY deployment to high leverage situations only and have Blevins pitch like a normal reliever in his other appearances. I don’t think it’s easy for either the manager or the pitcher. But they’re not getting paid 7 figures because it’s easy.

    • Mike Walczak
      May 25, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      This is really insightful about Blevins. I agree on developing another Gsellman/Lugo.

  2. Bk
    May 25, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    I’d like to see more Blevins and less Ramos. And no Robles.

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