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Jerry Blevins: The Bullpen Magician


Since being acquired as one of two pieces from the Chicago Cubs in the deal that ended Jason Kendall‘s time in Oakland, Jerry Blevins has been a man on the move.  Unfortunately it was on the move to and from Sacramento.  It seemed like Blevins was wearing out the I-80 corridor like no other, because he was.  Whenever someone got hurt, Blevins was the fill in, whenever that reliever was activated, Blevins was right back to Sacramento.  It couldn’t have been easy for the tall lefty, but he persevered.  And it’s that perseverance that got him to where he is today.

Sep 11, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics reliever Jerry Blevins (13) delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels in the ninth inning at Angel Stadium. The Athletics defeated the Angels 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

In 2012, after a pretty strong 2011 season Blevins started the season as one of Bob Melvin‘s primary relievers, having proven his capability at the Major League level.  As the 2012 season moved along, Blevins gained more and more of Melvin’s trust and was put into more and more high pressure situations.  When the likes of Brian Fuentes failed, and were moved out of the way, Blevins ascended in the bullpen hierarchy.  And he flourished.

Blevins set career highs (or bests) in 2012 for appearances (63), innings pitched (65.1), ERA (2.48) and WHIP (1.07).  His BABIP of .224 and FIP of 4.21 suggest that he may have had a little luck on his side, but those numbers may be skewed slightly because of his .96 HR/9, which is right about the league average but still higher than we’d like to see.  His walk rate was also a bit higher than preferred, at 3.44 BB/9 which is slightly above league average.  So while those numbers are not alarming, they will need to come down below league averages for Blevins to continue his success or else the averages could catch up with him.

In the meantime, Jerry Blevins has cemented himself as one of the more reliable left handed relievers in the AL, and has proven that he can handle a heavy workload as well.

Of all the great moments during this awesome season, one of the best belonged to Jerry Blevins.  And I bet most of you already know what I’m talking about.  In the month of September, the A’s travelled down to Anaheim for a 4 game series that would prove very crucial down the stretch for both teams.  The A’s lead 6-3 going to the bottom of the 9th after Coco Crisp tripled and scored on an error (still an inside the park home run in our hearts), Grant Balfour was getting squeezed horribly and had gotten himself into some serious trouble.  Having allowed 2 runs, and the tying run at 3rd, Jerry Blevins was called in to record all 3 outs without allowing that runner to score.  He struck out Kendrys Morales for the 1st out, but was not out of the woods just yet.  Then with a wave of his magic wand, induced a game ending double play ball off the bat of Howie Kendrick to bail out Balfour and the A’s.

It was a huge save for the team and for Blevins personally.  Had the A’s lost that game, perhaps that would’ve been the difference between winning the AL West and just grabbing a wild card spot.  Ofcourse looking back now, maybe going through the playoffs and the ALDS as the lower seed wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world, but that’s another discussion.

Jerry Blevins will begin 2013 once again as one of Bob Melvin’s number one go to options out of the bullpen.  And it’s a distinction he definitely deserves.  Truly couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.