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.