The Toronto Blue Jays are in need of a lefty reliever, more now than ever. Jerry Blevin could be the guy they’re looking for.
The longest serving member of the Toronto Blue Jays has departed and is heading to St Louis. While his fresh new deal with the Cardinals leaves a massive hole in our hearts, the more immediate concern for Blue Jays’ management is how to fill the massive hole created in the bullpen.
While Cecil technically stopped being a Blue Jay when the Cubs won the World Series, his signature on Cardinals letterhead cements the cold hard fact that Aaron Loup is currently at the top of the Blue Jays left handed reliever depth charts. This ugly truth just might scare the bejesus out of the fan base, it might be enough to send Ross Atkins looking for help a little more fervently.
A candidate to look at is Jerry Blevins. He is fresh off a strong season for the Mets where he threw 42 innings and finished with a 4-2 record and a 2.79 ERA.
|162 Game Avg.||3||2||3.44||68||16||1||59||50||23||6||21||58||3.58||1.201|
One of the more appealing aspects of considering Blevins is his 11.14 K/9 (29.2%). If you’re considering a guy to come in late in a game to face one of the powerful lefty bats in the AL East, that number has to be to your liking. His PITCHf/x data (via Fangraphs) tells us that he throws a mix of a sinker (wSI/C: -0.46), cutter (wCU/C: 1.67), slider (wSL/C: 3.51) and a change (wCH/C: 2.37). That’s 3 very good pitches that helped lead to a SwStr% of 11%.
If you’re looking at his splits, which you should be, you’ll see that he held lefties to a .250 average and righties to .172 clip. Granted, the sample size of righties was 65 batters, while his experience against lefty batters in 2016 totaled 113 batters. Most of the damage done against him came from right handed hitters. They hit 3 of the 4 home run he allowed last season.
That brings up another interesting aspect of Blevins. His HR/9 was 0.86. Again, when you consider the role he could fill late in games, the idea of him being able to keep the ball in the park is crucial. Think about how many games are played in these AL East launching pads. Having a guy who doesn’t give up many bombs is comforting. He gives up ground balls at a rate of 45.8%. Perhaps leaning more on the sinker could help him make use of the good defense behind him to increase that rate.
Blevins is a guy who you would likely use against lefties most of the time, much like the Mets did in 2016. His 42 innings came over a span of 73 games. He is the “lefty specialist” kind of guy a team needs. If Loup is the only option, this team is in trouble. Blevins offers the confidence needed to face big lefty bats.
Blevins is 33 yrs old and made $4M in 2016. As a free agent, he did not even make the cut in MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agents list. That could all play in the Blue Jays’ favor. He could be an ‘under the radar’ type of guy to pursue while other teams are waiting to see the kind of payday the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon see.
In a market where Brett Cecil is getting 4 yrs and Chapman and Jansen will see huge money, perhaps a guy like Jerry Blevins is a more cost effective option. Perhaps a two year deal (one, plus an option, even…?) could be worth exploring. It is not exactly clear what the Blue Jays plan to do with the slightly increased payroll they are working with. On the one hand, we hear they have money to offer Edwin Encarnacion. On the other hand, we hear that their offer is one that will easily be beat.
There is money to spend, though. With all the holes to be filled, perhaps Jerry Blevins could go a long way to helping fill one hole in a way that doesn’t limit the Blue Jays’ ability to fill others.
*Featured Image Credit: slgckgc UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.