Jerry Blevins eager to play several late-inning roles in bullpen
Jerry Blevins said no one would mistake him for a closer, but he’s happy to buy into Mickey Calloway’s closer of the day concept if that’s what the new Mets manager intends to do with his transformation of the bullpen.
Callaway said last week he will let the matchups decide who gets the ball in the ninth inning. He will pick among Jeurys Familia, A.J. Ramos, newcomer Anthony Swarzak and Blevins.
“The inning doesn’t really matter, it’s always the situation,’’ Blevins said Tuesday from his home in Findlay, Ohio. “I feel like a lot of times that I’ve come in since I’ve been a Met, the game’s on the line anyway. You’ve got bases loaded with one out and you’ve got Daniel Murphy up. To me, that’s the game there anyway, so whether it’s in the ninth inning or the sixth inning, I think the leverage situation is always the same. If you want to give me some save [opportunities], I’m OK with that, too. I just want to do my job whenever they want me to do it.
“Nobody’s ever going to mistake me, no matter how many saves I accumulate, as a typical closer. Andrew Miller, he was the guy — is he a closer, is he a setup guy? He’s so versatile. But nobody’s going to mistake me for Aroldis Chapman.’’
Blevins has five career saves, including three with the Mets in three seasons.
With Josh Smoker designated for assignment to make room for Jose Reyes, it appears the Mets will enter spring training with Blevins, 34, as the only lefthanded reliever on their 40-man roster. If that extends into the season, Blevins said, “I won’t be pitching in the sixth inning at all. It’ll definitely affect the team if I’m the only [lefty]. I hope they bring another guy in, but if not, we’ll deal with it. We’ll see what happens.’’
Blevins has spoken with Callaway over the winter. “I’m really excited,’’ he said. “He seems not only a guy with a great mind for baseball but he seems like an interesting person to chat with about life in general. He seems very intelligent. Easy conversationalist.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s got. It’s nice to have a pitcher be at the helm. I’ve never had a pitcher be my manager. Hopefully, he gives the position players a hard time like most position player managers do with pitchers.’’
There was no doubt the Mets were going to pick up Blevins’ $7-million option for 2018. He went 6-0 last year and held left- handed hitters to a .197 average. Righties hit .288.
“There’s a reason why I’m successful against lefties,’’ he said. “It’s because that’s what my job has been. Left-on-left is a real thing. It’s a different approach. But also, if you want me to get righties out, give me some time in the offseason to prepare for that. And I’ll focus on that. Career-wise, they’ve asked me in those big moments, when it really counts, is to get lefthanded hitters out, so my whole focus has always been getting the big lefty out in their lineup. If you want my job to change, let me know. I’ll adjust my focus.’’
Blevins was hoping the Mets would bring back Addison Reed, who was traded to the Red Sox last season and recently signed a two-year free-agent contract with the Twins.
“That was me selfishly wanting a great pitcher on the team and great human being in the clubhouse, so I was really pushing for a friend of mine to come back and help out,” Blevins said. “Any team’s going to be better with him in the bullpen, but I think we can do great things with our bullpen that we have now.’’
If Mickey Callaway is leaning toward a closer-by-committee approach, these are his current options:
Career Relief App.Career Saves
Paul Sewald 570