Fitting Jerry Blevins and Alex Torres into the Mets Bullpen

By: Brian P. Mangan

The Mets made some moves today, acquiring LHP Jerry Blevins from Washington for Matt den Dekker and LHP Alex Torres from San Diego for minor leaguer Cory Mazzoni. Both pitchers are relievers,and do a great deal to fortify the Mets precarious bullpen.

What you need to know about LHP Jerry Blevins

Blevins, 31, profiles as a classic LOOGY (lefty-one-out-guy). For his career, Blevins has allowed a 729 OPS versus righties, and only a 594 OPS versus lefties. That split was even larger last year, with a 821 OPS allowed versus righties and a miniscule 419 OPS versus lefties.

He struggled last season to a 4.87 ERA overall, but posted a 10.4 K/9 and 2.77 FIP. He owns a 3.43 ERA and 3.76 FIP over the last five seasons.

blevins stats

What you need to know about LHP Alex Torres

Torres, 27, on the other hand, is one of those lefties that tends to do better against opposite-handed batters. In this case, Torres has been better against righties in his career than against lefties. For his relatively brief career, Torres has allowed a 540 OPS against righties and a 605 OPS against lefties. Despite the reverse platoon split, what you’ll notice right away is that both figures are quite good.

Torres also had a down season overall last year, posting a 1.46 WHIP, but overall has put up a very strong 2.55 ERA in the majors over his two full seasons (120 innings pitched overall).

alex torres stats

Further distinguishing the two is pitch selection and style. Torres relies primarily on a 92.5 mph fastball (62% of the time) along with a changeup almost one third of the time, which is what makes him so effective against righties. Blevins, meanwhile, uses an assortment of offspeed pitches, throwing a cutter, curveball, and changeup each around 12-18% of the time to complement a fastball which tops out around 91. So, despite acquiring two left-handed relievers, the Mets actually got two quite-different pitchers.

Where they both fit in the existing bullpen

We discussed the Mets bullpen situation earlier this month and explained that some of the Mets right-handed relievers did a good job of dealing with lefty batters. Now, thanks to the addition of Blevins, in particular, the Mets have a legitimate LOOGY (lefty-one-out-guy) to add to the mix. Let’s take a look at some splits to see what strenghs our personnel possess (above 750 OPS allowed is red, below 650 OPS allowed is blue):

blevins chart

Both Torres and Blevins are major leaguers who were costly in trade (Matt den Dekker, traded for Blevins, and Cory Mazzoni, traded for Torres, are cost-controlled players with value), so the Mets undoubtedly acquired them with the intention of having them in the major league bullpen all year.

These are both great moves for the Mets in 2015. Torres was a good buy-low candidate after struggling somewhat with the Diamondbacks last year, and is a good bet to bounce back. Fangraphs projects Torres to post a 3.65 ERA, but with a career ERA of 2.55 he may exceed that. As for Blevins, he is projected by Fangraphs to put up a 3.32 ERA.

Neither Torres or Blevins have been quite as good as Edgin was last season, but both add much-needed versatility. With Blevins taking over the LOOGY role, the Mets can carry Gilmartin to use in lower leverage innings against lefties if necessary without losing him back to the Twins. Familia can split the closing duties with Mejia depending on the handedness of the batters expected up in the ninth, while Carlos Torres, Alex Torres, and Carlyle can nail down the middle innings. I expect as the result of this that Montero will be assigned to Triple-A to continue starting.

Overall, red-letter day for the Mets. Not the biggest acquisitions in the world, but definitely ones that will help.