Mets LH reliever Jerry Blevins recently discussed his increased curveball usage, new manager Mickey Callaway, and the idea of "bullpening."
Blevins, whose curveball usage in 2017 was a career-high 50.2 percent (up from 31.2 percent in 2016) said he'll speak to Callaway about his curve, but will also seek out the advice of his teammates about that and other things.
"I'll definitely talk to him," Blevins told SNY, "but even talking to Seth Lugo about his curveball or Paul Sewald about his slider. You're constantly tweaking, I always use the adage, 'you're either getting better or you're getting worse,' there's no staying the same. So I'm constantly trying to make myself better."
"I think it's more of a feel thing," Blevins added about his increased curveball usage last season. "It was definitely intentional that I used my curveball more last year. If it's successful, I'll stick with it. If it's not, I'll make an adjustment."
According to Callaway, regardless of whether the pitch is in the strike zone or not, a pitcher is better served using his curveball instead of other off-speed pitches because it generally has the best chance of resulting in a strike.
"When you throw breaking balls, you get the benefit of more chase out of the zone," Callaway explained to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian last season. "So, your strike percentage is actually higher, even though your zone percentage might be lower."
Callaway also said recent research indicates velocity is contributing more to pitching injuries than breaking balls, which is another reason why he pushes his staff to use a more balanced selection of pitches.
"He's very intelligent," Blevins said about Callaway. "I'm just excited. I've never had a former pitcher be my manager before, so I'm excited to have somebody there that's kind of been in my shoes, because it's so rare for a pitcher to be a manager. It'll be a unique experience for me personally."
Blevins also weighed in on the idea of "bullpening," something the Mets are expected to do more in 2018, while placing on emphasis on removing starting pitchers besides Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom before the third time through the order.
"To see the usage like that, I appreciate it," Blevins said. "I notice it's like that third time through the lineup for starters, guys have a lot less success, and so the difference -- it's just a numbers game. I still love to watch Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard go complete game, because those guys are special. But at the same time, you understand there's some really high quality talent in the bullpen that needs to be used in high-leverage situations."
Along with Blevins, the Mets' bullpen next season is expected to include Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, and the recently-signed Anthony Swarzak.