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Roster preview: Jerry Blevins

Feb 4, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

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Age on Opening Day 2014: 30

How acquired: Traded from Athletics for OF Billy Burns, Dec. 2013

2014 salary: $1.675 million

2013 stats (w/OAK): 67 G, 14 GF, 60 IP, 47 H, 23 R, 21 ER, 7 HR, 17 BB, 52 K, 1.067 WHIP, 5-0, 3.15 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 0.3 WAR

2014 storyline: Recognizing how much they missed a quality left-handed reliever last season, the Nationals made it a priority this winter to acquire a proven southpaw. They struck the deal for Blevins during the Winter Meetings, liking both his track record of success — a 2.81 ERA and 1.119 WHIP over the last three seasons — and the fact he was under team control through 2015.

Blevins is coming off a bit of a strange year in Oakland, though, one in which he was far more effective against right-handed batters (who hit .190 with a .581 OPS) than left-handed batters (who hit .253 with a .741 OPS). He called those numbers a fluke, though he has always been comfortable facing right-handed hitters and wants to be used for a full inning of relief, not merely to face one or two batters. He should get a chance to face plenty from both sides of the plate in big spots this season.

Best-case scenario: Blevins proves to be exactly what the Nationals needed all along. He thoroughly dominates the NL East’s toughest left-handed batters and becomes Matt Williams’ go-to guy in those key situations. He also remains effective against right-handed hitters and sets new career-highs with 70 appearances and 70 innings pitched. Blevins posts a 2.50 ERA and becomes as important to the Nationals’ bullpen as Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen.

Worst-case scenario: The transition to the NL isn’t as smooth as Blevins or the Nationals hoped. Those reverse splits from 2013 prove a harbinger of things to come, and left-handed batters enjoy real success against him. Williams loses faith in Blevins and only uses him in favorable situations, forced to rely instead on Clippard to get the really tough left-handed hitters out. Blevins winds up with a 4.00 ERA over 50 appearances, and the Nats consider non-tendering his contract next winter.

Most-likely scenario: Blevins isn’t the best left-handed reliever in the game, but he’s much better than what the Nationals had in 2013. He functions mostly as a match-up reliever, facing one or two batters per outing, but is mostly reliable and effective, especially against left-handed batters. He makes 60 appearances, posts a 3.25 ERA and proves an important bridge between Nationals starters and the guys at the back end of the ‘pen.

  1. Joe Seamhead - Feb 4, 2014 at 6:39 AM

    This is the one off-season move that I have the most reservations about.From all I have read about Blevins he is a great clubhouse and community guy, but when reading A’s blogs their fans say the guy gave them serious heartburn when he came into the games. I also find it to be of concern that, though healthy, he wasn’t used at all in the playoffs by the A’s last year, not one appearance. I hope I’m wrong, but I really don’t think this was as good a move as many on this board thought at the time the trade was made.

    • sjm308 - Feb 4, 2014 at 7:46 AM

      Joe: you may be correct but I think Mark said it best in his first sentence in the “most likely” scenario – He surely isn’t the best at what he does but he is a big step up from what we had last year. I look at all the salaries not just on this roster but around MLB and Blevins seems like a deal at 1.6 million. Lets hope the move to the NL does for him what I hope it does for Fister and of course all I am basing that on is how well Gio did. Again, there are probably stats for that and as a relief pitcher, Blevins will never face a starting pitcher (at least I hope not). I just like the idea that we have a definite plan for our lefthander out of the pen, not hoping Zack Duke can be both a long reliever and a one out guy. Last year was difficult to say the least and our bullpen was a big part of that difficulty. I also wondered about zero appearances last year in the playoffs but they did have two decent lefties. In 2012 he made 3 appearances 3.2 innings and ZERO runs allowed so its not like he doesn’t have some playoff experience.

      Go Nats.

  2. DaveB - Feb 4, 2014 at 7:49 AM

    I keep hearing that fact about not using him in the playoffs, but I don’t think that is that big a deal …. very small sample size – they only had 5 games spread over 7 days (with a nice break before), so they were able to lean on their top 3 relievers and Doolittle got the lefty appearances. So … it shows that Blevins wasn’t their top shutdown lefty, but we knew that when we got him.

    • Joe Seamhead - Feb 4, 2014 at 8:38 AM

      Blevins had a very good Sept, not giving up any runs in 7.2 innings[000 ERA]/ a pretty good Aug giving up 5 earned runs in13 innings[3.46 ERA]/ a bad July with 4 ER in 4.2 IP [7.71 ERA]/ and a bad June 7 Earned Runs in 10 IP [6.30 ERA]. Sorry, but after kicking the tires I’m not sold. Like I said, I hope that I’m wrong. I also think the kid we gave up for him has just as much, if not more, potential upside then Billy Hamilton.

      • unkyd59 - Feb 4, 2014 at 8:48 AM

        Or Billy Burns, evun….

      • alexva6 - Feb 4, 2014 at 8:52 AM

        gotta love it when a guy goes out on a limb like this.

        Billy Hamilton is a top 10 hitting prospect by most major scouts

        Billy Burns not in the top 100 best prospects by same

      • Joe Seamhead - Feb 4, 2014 at 9:19 AM

        I figured I’d get beat up for the Burns/ Hamilton reference, but Hamilton just isn’t a very good outfielder. He can get on base, and steal bases.We’ll see how he does as the everyday lead off CF for the Reds.He is entertaining to watch rattle opposing pitchers. Keep in mind that Burns never even attempted switch hitting until he got into pro ball and the fairly impressive stats came with him still learning to hit from the left side. Rizzo dealt him because he was dealing from a position that Goodwin is the CF of the future for the Nats.
        My main point is more that I’m not sold on Blevins, and again, I hope that I am wrong.

      • knoxvillenat - Feb 4, 2014 at 11:02 AM

        I got to see Billy Hamilton play 3 times over the 2012-2013 seasons both at AA and AAA level. He is by no means a top hitting prospect YET. Hamilton has holes in his swing, tends to sometimes want to hit the big fly when that isn’t his game. He needs to concentrate more on keeping the ball on the ground and let his legs get him base hits or turn singles into doubles. He has only had one year of experience in the outfield at the AAA level in 2013, perhaps in the AFL in 2012 but I’m not certain about that. Eventually he will become a pretty good outfielder but I will not be surprised if he starts the season back in the minors and Bernadina is playing CF for the Reds.

    • unkyd59 - Feb 4, 2014 at 8:46 AM

      And… We clearly didn’t pay for a “top shutdown lefty”. Solid move… Anything above that will be gravy… Maybe Solis is out top shutdown lefty, come July….

  3. scnatsfan - Feb 4, 2014 at 9:09 AM

    Or if we go big and go Burnett then Detwiler becomes the shutdown guy

  4. sjm308 - Feb 4, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    Seam: I am not as thorough as some but I do read other blogs on our lads and watch out for M. Taylor as our next CF’r. It appears they moved him onto the 40 man for a reason and everything I read is positive. Point is, Burns was buried on this team and I think it was a good move. We don’t have alot of depth in our minor league system with the exception of CF and Burns was about 4 or 5 on that list. Like AlexVa said, he was nowhere near the top 100.

  5. sjm308 - Feb 4, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    I realize this thread is on Blevins but I just read an article in the Post on Span and it talks about him running more next season as Mr. Williams has decreed that this team will be more aggressive on the basepaths. He is also excited about the defensive shifts that will be applied this year. It talks about him working with a speed coach all winter. I believe we will absolutely extend him for 2015 if he continues to hit like he did in the last two months of the year which gives Michael Taylor another year to develop in the minors and they can shift Goodwin to a corner outfield spot or use him as part of a trade. Just makes me more certain that there is no magic “window of opportunity” for this team. I think they will be good for many many years.

    Go Nats!

    • Joe Seamhead - Feb 4, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      sjm 308, you may be right on Michael Taylor but I would advise you to temper your expectations.I have heard from more than one source that he is a clone of Justin Maxwell, right on down to the long, looping swing. Burns is history, I’ll turn the page with this last thought concerning him being 4 or 5 on the list and that is: a year ago he wasn’t close to being that high. He seemingly came out of nowhere, and was unquestionably the fastest player in the Nationals organization and is one of the fastest players in all of baseball, and every coach that has worked with him has raved about his work ethic and coachability.
      As to Billy Hamilton? I agree with knoxvilleat’s statements, except for his statement that eventually Hamilton will be a good outfielder, only because I don’t know what he’s basing that on. He was god awful at shortstop, his supposedly ” natural” position. The Reds did the usual “stick him in the outfield” and are rushing him to the ML before he has even begun to learn how to play it. I will go on record as saying that he will not be a satisfactory replacement for Choo, either as a leadoff hitter, nor as a centerfielder.

  6. micksback1 - Feb 4, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    He’s worth a shot, I think he may end up being the 2014 version of Brad Lidge, meaning we may get something from him early, but he will be gone before the Fall

    • sjm308 - Feb 4, 2014 at 11:05 AM

      Bet you a Guinness you are wrong on that. Blevins will finish the year with us. He might not be great but he beats the heck out of Zack Duke.

      • sjm308 - Feb 4, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        Not really worth debating but Lidge was at the back end of his career & barely holding on. Blevins is only 30 and has had 3 strong seasons in a row.

      • micksback1 - Feb 4, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        you got it Coach! I would love to be wrong and owe you a Guinness or 2, or 3, ha ha

    • Jb - Feb 4, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      Lidge was a closer, Blevins is a LOOGY. Different job description. Blevins doesn’t have to be better than Lidge, he has to be better than Ray King.

      • Section 222 - Feb 4, 2014 at 12:04 PM

        Blevins will be more than LOOGY for us. He’s got good splits against RH batters and will likely pitch a full inning when a power lefty is expected to bat. More of a Sean Burnett type than a Ray King type.

        Lidge was never going to be a closer for us. He was going to be a setup guy and provide steadiness and experience to the bullpen. He failed at ever task.

  7. Section 222 - Feb 4, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    This year’s Brad Lidge might be Heath Bell. Luckily, he was signed by the Rays, not the Nats.

  8. Faraz Shaikh - Feb 4, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    I hope RD goes to bullpen.

  9. NatsLady - Feb 4, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    This may have been discussed and I missed it. If so, sorry for the repetition.

    Keith Law put up his top prospects for all teams. with pretty much the usual suspects.
    http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/10372008/national-league-east-top-10-prospects-team-2014-mlb

    He ranks Taylor No. 9. What caught my eye was Paul Severino (no. 6), his “sleeper”. A catcher with excellent defensive skills and a bat that could hit for average (though not power). He was an All-Star in the Sally League because of his defense, and could reach the majors at a “young” age. He’s 20 now.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=severi000ped

    • NatsLady - Feb 4, 2014 at 12:09 PM

      Sorry, Pedro Severino.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 4, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      can you please list the ten guys if you don’t mind? I understand if you don’t want to do that.

    • jd - Feb 4, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      And no Skole

  10. jd - Feb 4, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Faraz,

    Giolito, Cole,Goodwin,Karns,Solis,Severino,Rodriguez, Johansen,Taylor,Souza.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 4, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      thanks JD.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 4, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      Jefry Rodriguez? I have no idea who that is. first time I have heard his name. I am assuming Law saw him play.

      • DaveB - Feb 4, 2014 at 7:56 PM

        a pitcher on the team that put up that amazing record in the Gulf Coast League … obviously a long way a away from the majors, but when a team goes 49-9, everyone starts assuming that there must be some good players there :-)

      • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        49-9? damn, that’s good record. hope we start and end season this way.

  11. jd - Feb 4, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    And he’s really,really down on Purke. He think the TCU coaches ruined his arm.

  12. Section 222 - Feb 4, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Nate Karns is our No. 4 prospect? That’s not too encouraging is it?

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