If you missed it, the Washington Nationals traded Billy Burns to Oakland for Athletics left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins. This deal came at the end of the winter meetings, fulfilling the role the Nats have needed to fill for a few seasons now. Will Blevins be enough for the Nationals in the bullpen? Here is what I believe.
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Blevins has been absolutely fantastic the last two season in Oakland. He has pitched in at least 60 games, and averaged 62+ innings over the last two seasons. That is why the Nats thought that Blevins would be a good fit in D.C. I agree 100% with what they did in this deal. Some may be upset that 2013 Minor League Player of the Year Billy Burns was traded, but prospects are prospects, they don’t help you win on the Major League level. Blevins does that for the Nationals.
Blevins will be under Nationals control for the next two seasons, which is always a good thing to get out of a bullpen guy. Here are how the numbers break out for Blevins.
This past season was a little down from 2012, but it was still a great season. His strikeouts went up from 2012, his walks down and his home runs allowed per nine were also down. That right off the top is a good sign. If a player can continue to get better from season to season, that is always a plus.
When it comes to pitches, he uses his sinker a lot while complimenting it with a very nice slider. His sinker sits about 89 mph, while his slider about 84 but it works for him and gets outs. Even with the sinker he doesn’t produce that large of a percentage of ground balls that you would expect. He gives up a fly ball about 50% of the time. While about every eight fly balls leave the yard. None the less he is still a great pitcher. You don’t have to get ground balls to be great.
For a lefty reliever he strikes out a lot of batters. He averages about seven K’s per nine innings. While his walks are at about two and half per nine. Even if he is a lefty, he faces righties pretty well. That gives him the ability to pitch a full inning if needed and not just face one lefty and be done for the game. That is a huge plus for the Nats going forward.
Lefties hit .242 against him, while righties .184. He also faced more righties than lefties last season. In 2012 it was the opposite, lefties had a lower percentage than righties. The one outlier that really stands out over the past two seasons is his walks to righties. He has walked 30 right-handed batters and only 12 lefties. I’m not to sure why that is, but it will be something to pay attention to in the next two seasons with the Nats.
Looking at his splits, something really stood out. Once he gets ahead in the count at 0-1 or 0-2 the at-bat is pretty much over for the hitter before they even realize it. In those counts, the hitters are at a .206 average. Also when ahead in the count at 0-1 or 0-2 he walked a total of three batters last season. His main key is to get ahead and stay ahead and the at-bat is realistically over for the hitter.
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While on the other side of the coin, when he gets behind in the count, the batters average rises to .260. When the count is 3-2 it rises even more to .360. Not as many at bats in a 3-2 count but still, that is scary to me.
I also noticed that hitters hit more home runs while the bases are empty than in any other situation. It may be that he isn’t into a rhythm just yet, or he just is trying to get a pitch over for a strike, but hitters do the most damage with the bases empty. That isn’t always a bad thing. I would rather it be a solo shot, than a three run bomb.
Lastly, Blevins will be seen by National League hitters for the first time. That is advantage Blevins. He has an awkward delivery from the hitters view and guys that haven’t seen him will struggle with it a bit, I believe. If Blevins can come in and be the pitcher he was in Oakland the last two seasons, the Nationals will be just fine in the left-handed reliever department.
So, that is all you need to know about Jerry Blevins. He is a great addition and yet another great move by General Manager Mike Rizzo. Blevins will fit in just fine in the Nationals bullpen and be a force to be reckoned with in at least the next two seasons and maybe more.