In the middle of a Mets bullpen in constant disarray stands the stalwart Jerry Blevins. The lefty specialist has put up solid numbers in his three years in New York and is an interesting trade candidate for a team looking towards 2018.
Overall, Blevins is having a decent season, though not quite up to last year's exceptional standards. He has a 3.54 ERA, and while his strikeout rate is excellent, his walk rate has jumped to nearly 5.0 per 9 innings.
The caveat is that while it feels as though he has pitched every day (and he does in fact lead baseball with 44 appearances), his 28 innings pitched is still a small sample. And there's every chance his wildness evens out as the season wears on.
As has been the norm throughout his career, Blevins has been absolute murder on lefties. They are managing just a .401 OPS against him this season. Righties, on the other hand, are putting up a whopping 1.175 OPS against, though sample size is a major issue here as well. His career splits are .570/.741 OPS against lefties and righties respectively, which is along the lines of what to expect going forward -- and still quite good for a specialist.
A concern going forward for Blevins, not surprisingly, is his heavy usage so far. While he has thrown far from the most innings of any reliever, he has appeared in over half of the Mets games, just one season after notching 73 appearances (a career high). While the immediate effect of this type of usage doesn't seem to harm his production (this year, as well as for his career, he performs better on shorter rest), his risk of injury in the long-term is likely elevated.
Blevins's future on the Mets is a curious question. He has a team option for 2018 for a very reasonable $7 million, and the team has given every indication that they intend to compete next season. Quality left-handed specialists are not always easy to find and the Mets will have ample holes to fill in the offseason as is. That said, the same factors that make him valuable to the Mets also make him valuable to contenders. And midseason trades for relievers can be surprisingly lucrative.
Brewers lefty Will Smith, younger than Blevins but with less effectiveness against left-handed hitting, was moved to the Giants last year in a deal that brought back a former first round pick and a catcher with some MLB experience. If offers for Blevins look like this, it may be the right move for the Mets, who have a relatively thin farm system due to trades and promotions.
Blevins will be an interesting name to watch going forward, both in terms of where he ends up and how his usage and performance track over the season. It's been a relief (no pun intended) having a reliable lefty, perhaps the first for the Mets since Pedro Feliciano. But with the team in upheaval, what happens next is anyone's guess.
Maggie Wiggin (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Archive Posts) has been a Mets fan since birth and a MetsBlog contributor since 2013. She loves throwing hard and hitting hard and hates the DH. When baseball is out of season, she fills her days with data analysis and evaluation and patiently waits for Spring