SAN DIEGO — Jerry Blevins’ three-pitch, one-batter Friday night outing ended with Eric Hosmer flying out to the warning track in rightfield.
In Blevins’ pass/fail role as a lefthanded specialist, that counts as a pass. A few more feet and it’s a home run and a fail.
There have been more fails than normal for Blevins through the first month, but the Mets haven’t expressed much concern over his slow start.
“He just doesn’t have the confidence, obviously,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “Probably because of the way he started. But I think we’re going to try to stress to him, and have been, to use his curveball a little bit more and really get it going.
“When he’s good, his curveball is down, it’s got bite. I just don’t see him spinning the ball the way he has in the past right now.”
Blevins entered play Saturday with a 11.25 ERA and 2.50 WHIP, numbers that have come in a small enough sample — four innings in 13 appearances — that they are swayed heavily by a two-out, four-run outing April 19.
Of greater significance is Blevins’ work against lefthanded hitters, traditionally his specialty. Blevins has faced lefties 16 times this season. Six got hits — including two doubles — and another walked.
That’s good for a .400 average, .438 OBP and .533 slugging percentage. In his career, lefties’ slash line against him is .215/.267/.308.
Eight times this season, Blevins’ outing has lasted just one batter. Three of those times, the batter reached base.
Blevins said he doesn’t feel less confident and attributed the unusual results to the early-season sample size.
“I don’t necessarily feel [less confident],” Blevins said. “I think it’s more just, I want to be a part [of the success], I want to pitch often. Every pitcher wants to pitch more often.
“It’s hard to give myself a grade. I’m feeling good, I’m feeling strong. I just want to throw.”
As Callaway noted, Blevins isn’t using his curveball as often, throwing it about 45 percent of the time, down from 50 percent last year. Blevins said there wasn’t much to that, other than he’s trying to stay sharp and mix in all of his pitches since he doesn’t pitch for very long when he gets in a game.
Pitching coach Dave Eiland seemed not to mind it either, saying Blevins’ curveball isn’t of much use if he can’t locate his fastball.
“He’s just not real sharp yet. He’s not executing pitches, it’s as simple as that,” Eiland said. “A lot of misses in middle of the plate. He’s trying to go in, it stays middle. He’s trying to go away to a lefty, he doesn’t quite get it there.”
The Mets opened the season with a late-inning quartet of Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos and Blevins. Ramos, like Blevins, has encountered his share of trouble (mostly walks) and Swarzak has pitched in only two games due to a strained left oblique. Familia has been mostly good, albeit with a couple of blown saves recently.
Getting Blevins on track — in a division with lefthanded hitters Bryce Harper, Freddie Freeman and Justin Bour — would be a noteworthy piece in keeping the back end of the bullpen stable.
Like Blevins, who is in his 12th big-league season, Eiland is not worried about the lefthander’s early struggles.
“He’ll figure it out. He knows what he’s doing,” Eiland said. “He’s going to be OK. If he was a young kid, a rookie or something out playing mind games with himself [there would be more concern]. He’s a veteran guy who has been around. I don’t worry about that cloud in his thoughts.”