The lack of lefties in the 2013 bullpen was something the Washington Nationals lamented after the fact last season and something Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo was focused on addressing this winter as he built the roster for 2014.
"We attacked our bullpen shortage," Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C. hosts Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier recently, "especially from the left side when we made the trade for [Jerry] Blevins. And we feel good about that. We feel good about our depth in the starting rotation, in the bullpen and guys that we feel that can fill other positions if need be due to injury."
Blevins, who turned 30 last September, was acquired from the Oakland A's in return for 2013 Nationals' Minor League Player of the Year Billy Burns after seven season with the Athletics over which the 6'6'' reliever put up a 3.30 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 95 walks (3.20 BB/9) and 239 Ks (8.06 K/9) in 281 appearances and 267 IP. In 2013 with the A's, Blevins was (5-0) with a 3.15 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 17 walks (2.55 BB/9) and 52 Ks (7.80 K/9) in 60 IP over which he was worth +0.3 fWAR.
Jerry Blevins on autographs: "I'm telling you, if you had to choose between me and Matt Williams, I personally would choose Matt Williams."— 106.7 The Fan (@1067thefandc) January 22, 2014
In his career, Blevins has a .224/.278/.358 line against left-handers and he's held right-handed hitters to a .240/.326/.385 line.
Last year in Oakland, however, he held left-handed hitters to a .253/.299/.442 line while dominating right-handed hitters, who managed just a .190/.267/.314 line against the lefty.
"'Last year he had a little bit of a reverse split,'" Rizzo told reporters, including NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman, after acquiring Blevins, "'but we feel comfortable that he can get left-handers and right-handers out.'"
In his own appearance on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. with Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier this afternoon, Blevins was asked if he's had any discussions with the Nationals about how they plan to use him this season. "What they've told me so far is the seventh, eighth inning facing primarily left-handed hitters," Blevins said, "but I've had success against both lefties and righties, so they can use me for a full inning, for an inning plus or if they need to just come in and get one hitter out and call it a day."
Last season's reverse splits, Blevins explained, were the result of hard work to improve against both left and right-handers.
"I really worked on being successful against both," Blevins said. "A pitcher really wants to up their game no matter what they do. And you always concentrate on getting lefties out, because that's your job, but especially just being competitive you want to be able to get anybody you can out. So I try to be effective no matter what my role is, and I'll do whatever they need. Whatever they ask of me. If it's one hitter, I'll go out and I'll put a smile on my face after I'm done and if it's more than that I'll do more."
As for a scouting report on what National League hitters can expect to see from him when he takes the mound for the first time as a Washington National?
"I'm going to see a lot of awkward length and skinny limbs coming at you," Blevins joked. "You're going to see a guy that throws strikes. He's able to command his pitches, and hopefully, definitely if I'm facing myself, I'm going to get myself out because I probably will never be able to hit a baseball."
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