Richard Bleier

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Richard Bleier
Richard Bleier in 2017 (34785212210).jpg
Bleier with the Orioles in 2017
Baltimore Orioles – No. 48
Pitcher
Born: (1987-04-16) April 16, 1987 (age 32)
Davie, Florida
Bats: Left Throws: Left
MLB debut
May 30, 2016, for the New York Yankees
MLB statistics
(through June 19, 2019)
Win–loss record5–1
Earned run average2.71
Strikeouts63
Teams

Richard Sidney Bleier (born April 16, 1987) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball (MLB).

In high school, he was a State of Florida All Star in 2005. In his junior year of college at Florida Gulf Coast University, he was selected unanimously as the Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year and First Team All Sun Conference. The Texas Rangers selected Bleier in the sixth round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft. In 2009, his 125 strikeouts were the second-most in the Rangers' minor league system, and he gave up the fewest walks-per-9 innings in the California League. Bleier signed with the Washington Nationals organization before the 2015 season, pitched for the Harrisburg Senators that year, and had the most wins (14) and the lowest ERA (2.57) of all minor league pitchers in the Nationals minor league system. He was a 2015 post-season Class AA Eastern League All Star, and was voted a Washington organization All Star by MiLB.com.

Bleier debuted in the majors in 2016 for the New York Yankees, following nine minor league seasons in which he pitched 956 innings, and he was one of 12 Yankees pitchers since 1919 to make his debut after turning 29 years old. In 23 relief appearances in 2016 he had a 1.96 ERA. In February 2017 the Yankees traded Bleier to the Baltimore Orioles. In 57 relief appearances in 2017, he had a 1.99 ERA. In 31 relief appearances in 2018, he had a 1.93 ERA. His 1.97 ERA for the seasons 2016-18 was the second-lowest in major league baseball, of all pitchers with 100 or more innings pitched.

Used as both a starting pitcher and a relief pitcher in his career, the left-hander throws a fastball that hits the low 90s, a changeup, a curveball, and a slider.[1] His approach is to "pitch to contact," and use excellent control.[2]

Early and personal life[edit]

Bleier was born in Davie, Florida.[3] Bleier's father, Lawrence, is from Brooklyn, in New York City, and grew up playing stickball in Brownsville, Brooklyn; his mother is Kathleen Bleier.[4][5][6] Bleier has a brother and a sister, and is Jewish.[6][7] His wife is Brett Bleier.[1]

Bleier grew up in Plantation, Florida, and played baseball at South Plantation High School, from which he graduated in 2005.[8] As a freshman, he was 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m) tall, and weighed 117 pounds (53 kg).[9] He was chosen for the county and state All Star games in 2005.[10] He lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.[11]

College[edit]

Bleier played college baseball at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) for the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in Fort Myers, Florida on a partial scholarship.[6][12] By 2008, Bleier had grown to 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) and 210 pounds (95 kg), and was throwing 90 miles per hour (140 km/h).[9] In his junior year of college he was selected unanimously as the Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year and First Team All Sun Conference after he had a 7–1 win-loss record and a 2.09 earned run average (ERA), leading the conference in wins, ERA, complete games, and innings pitched.[13][6][10][14][15] In his three years at the university, he had a 2.70 ERA (2nd-best all-time in school history), 17 wins (7th), and 181 strikeouts (7th).[16]

Minor league career[edit]

The Texas Rangers selected Bleier in the sixth round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft, after his junior year in college.[13] His signing made him the highest draft pick in the history of Florida Gulf Coast University.[13]

Bleier played in the Rangers system. Playing for the Bakersfield Blaze in 2009, he was 7-11 and gave up the fewest walks-per-9-innings in the California League, 1.25, and had the best strikeout/walk ratio in the league, 5.40.[17] In 2009 between Bakersfield and Hickory, he was 9-12 and his 125 strikeouts were the second-most in the Rangers' minor league system.[18][19]

In 2010, he was 7-11 for Frisco, and gave up the third-fewest walks per 9 innings in the Texas League, at 1.54.[20] Bleier was voted Pitcher of the Week in the Class AA Texas League with the Rangers' Frisco RoughRiders on both May 10, 2010, and June 6, 2011.[13]

After the 2013 season, the Toronto Blue Jays selected him from the Rangers in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft.[21][22] Bleier signed with the Washington Nationals organization before the 2015 season, and pitched for the Harrisburg Senators.[23] In the 2015 season, Bleier had the most wins (14) and the lowest ERA (2.57) of all minor league pitchers in the Washington Nationals minor league system.[13] He was a post-season Class AA Eastern League All Star with Harrisburg in 2015.[13] In 2015, he was also voted a Washington organization All Star by MiLB.com.[13] He was voted Pitcher of the Week in the Eastern League with the Senators on May 25, 2015.[13] He was promoted to the Syracuse Chiefs of the Class AAA International League, for whom he was 6-2 with a 2.75 ERA.[24][25]

After he elected free agency, Bleier signed with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season.[13] He began the 2016 season with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the International League.[6]

Bleier began 2017 pitching for the Norfolk Tides of the AAA International League.[26] He was called up after posting an ERA of 0.61 in eight games.[27]

Major league career[edit]

New York Yankees (2016)[edit]

Bleier was called up to the majors for the first time on May 26, 2016, by the New York Yankees.[5] He debuted in the majors on May 30, becoming the 27th Yankee to wear uniform number 50.[28][5] His debut followed nine minor league seasons in which he pitched 956 innings. Bleier was one of 12 Yankees pitchers since 1919 to make his debut after turning 29 years old and the first since Amauri Sanit in 2011.[29][6] He became the third former FGCU player to play in the majors, joining pitchers Chris Sale and Casey Coleman.[5]

Yankee manager Joe Girardi said: "I can use him either way – for distance or I could use him if I wanted (to pitch to) a couple lefties. He’s a ground ball guy. He gets a ton of ground balls.... He was a starter down there, so he’s built up."[5] In 23 relief appearances in 2016, he had a 1.96 ERA, and left-handed batters hit .150 against him.[30][31]

Baltimore Orioles (2017-present)[edit]

2017[edit]

On February 21, 2017, the Yankees traded Bleier to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later or cash considerations.[32][33] One appearance after being handed his first career loss, Bleier tossed 1​23 scoreless innings in extra innings for his first career victory, against the Detroit Tigers. Bleier had a solid first half for the Orioles, with a 1.45 ERA in 30​13 innings, over 25 relief appearances.

Through August 4, 2017, Bleier had the lowest ERA (1.56) in the American League of all pitchers with 40 innings pitched.[34] At the same time—pitching to contact—he had averaged 4.02 strikeouts-per-9-innings, the lowest average of all such AL pitchers, and batters he faced averaged 3.39 pitches-per-plate-appearance, the second-lowest average among all such AL pitchers.[34]

In 57 relief appearances in 2017, he was 2-1 and had a 1.99 ERA.[35] Bleier averaged 3.69 strikeouts-per-9-innings, the lowest average of all AL pitchers who had pitched 60 innings or more, and batters he faced averaged 3.45 pitches-per-plate-appearance, the second-lowest average among all such AL pitchers.[35][36] He induced ground balls 68.8% of the time, the second-highest rate among all relievers in baseball.[37]

2018[edit]

In April 2018, Sam Miller wrote in ESPN: "Bleier has ... the best [career] ERA+ in major league history, minimum 95 innings".[38] A few days later Jon Meoli wrote in the Baltimore Sun: "By one measurement, Richard Bleier is the best statistical pitcher to ever toe the major league rubber. He knows that by the relatively arbitrary measurement of pitchers with 101 big league innings or more, his 242 ERA+ was the best... His raw ERA [1.78] is the best in baseball history for that qualifier as well."[39]

On June 13, Bleier left a game with an injury later diagnosed as a grade 3 lat tear on his left side.[40] The injury required surgical repair that ended Bleier's season; there was a chance he could be ready to pitch in spring training in 2019.[41][42][43]

In 31 relief appearances in 2018, he was 3-0 with 9 holds and a 1.93 ERA. Bleier averaged 4.13 strikeouts-per-9-innings, the fourth-lowest average of all AL pitchers who had pitched 30 innings or more.[44] Batters he faced averaged 3.40 pitches-per-plate-appearance, the second-lowest average among all such AL pitchers, and averaged 21.2% hard-hit balls, the third-lowest percentage among all such AL pitchers.[45][46][47]

For his career through 2018, Bleier was 5-1 with a 1.97 ERA in 111 games.[48] His 1.97 ERA for the seasons 2016-18 was the second-lowest in major league baseball (behind Zach Britton; 1.86), of all pitchers with 100 or more innings pitched, as his strikeout percentage (11.0%) was the lowest of such pitchers in major league baseball.[49][50] He had a salary of $556,000, and will be eligible for arbitration in 2020, and a free agent in 2023.[51]

Team Israel; World Baseball Classic[edit]

In 2012, Bleier, by virtue of his Jewish heritage, played for the Israel national baseball team in the qualifying rounds of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.[52][53] He pitched one scoreless inning, over the course of two appearances.[14] After not pitching in the first game,[54] Bleier got the only batter he faced in the second game, and was credited with a hold.[55] During the third and final game, Bleier recorded two outs while walking two, and was again credited with a hold.[56]

Bleier turned down Israel's offer to once again play for Israel at the World Baseball Classic main tournament, because he was trying to win a job in spring training in the Orioles’ bullpen.[57][30] He said: "It was really appealing to me to do it again. I wanted to represent Israel in the Classic. But I feel like I have such a small window at this point in my career. I didn't get to the big leagues until I was 29. I felt I should do whatever I could to get as much big league time as I can with what little time I have left."[58]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b David Dorsey (May 27, 2016). "Newest New York Yankee, from FGCU, thrives on control". News-Press. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  2. ^ Mick Reinhard (May 12, 2015). "Richard Bleier's pitch-to-contact philosophy shows young arms the way". Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  3. ^ "Richard Bleier Baseball Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  4. ^ Greg Cote (May 30, 2016). "Latest Hot Button Top 10; plus who's feeling most heat in South Florida sports? 12 choices, you pick 3. Poll. Vote!; also, Memorial Day, long climb of Richard Bleier, extraordinary life of Charley Winner, your verdict on SB turf wars & more". Greg Cote's Random Evidence Blog. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e David Dorsey (May 26, 2016). "FGCU grad Richard Bleier to pitch for New York Yankees". News-Press. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Greg Cote (June 4, 2016). "Bronx cheer: Nine-year baseball odyssey through minors leads to debut with Yankees". Miami Herald. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  7. ^ Ron Kaplan (June 2, 2016). "Shalom, Richard Bleier, our latest JML » Kaplan's Korner on Jews and Sports". New Jersey Jewish News. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  8. ^ Kristen Bentley. "Baltimore Orioles: Wear special hats for the first game"
  9. ^ a b "FGCU pitcher stirs scouts". Ft. Myers News-Press. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Richard Bleier". The Official Site of The Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles Athletics. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  11. ^ Rich Dubroff (January 5, 2018). "Orioles Hope To Find Fresh Arms At Sarasota Minicamp"
  12. ^ David Dorsey (May 26, 2016). "MLB: Former FGCU pitcher Richard Bleier called up by Yankees". Naples News. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Richard Bleier Stats, Highlights, Bio". MiLB.com. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  14. ^ a b "Frisco Roughriders Game Notes, May 16, 2013", milb.com.
  15. ^ "McClurg, Joseph Named All-Conference". Nashville, TN: lipscombsports.com. May 20, 2008. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  16. ^ Liam Jones (May 26, 2016). "FGCU's Richard Bleier called up by Yankees". Scout. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  17. ^ "2009 California League - Season Review", The Baseball Cube.
  18. ^ "Frisco Roughriders Game Notes, July 20, 2010,", milb.com.
  19. ^ "Frisco Roughriders Game Notes, April 15, 2010,", milb.com.
  20. ^ "2010 Texas League - Season Review", The Baseball Cube.
  21. ^ Nick Suss (June 28, 2016). "Richard Bleier faces Rangers for first time". mlb.com. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  22. ^ Jonathan Mayo (December 12, 2013). "2013 MLB Rule 5 Draft results". mlb.com. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  23. ^ Chelsea Janes (July 23, 2015). "Harrisburg starter Richard Bleier, among Eastern League's best, is pitching for a job". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  24. ^ Lindsay Kramer (August 13, 2015). "Syracuse Chiefs pitcher Richard Bleier vies for prospect status again". The Post-Standard. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  25. ^ "Richard Bleier Baseball Statistics [2006-2016]", The Baseball Cube.
  26. ^ "Orioles' Richard Bleier: Injures hamstring," CBS Sports, April 16, 2017.
  27. ^ "Richard Bleier," baseball-reference.com.
  28. ^ "Richard Bleier Stats, Fantasy & News". mlb.com. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  29. ^ Bryan Hoch (May 31, 2016). "Long journey to Majors well worth it for Bleier; 29-year-old left-hander makes big league debut with Yankees". mlb.com. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  30. ^ a b Andrew Sodergren (March 16, 2017). "Former FGCU baseball standout Bleier settling in with Orioles". Naples News. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  31. ^ Andrew Sodergren (June 29, 2017). "MLB: Former FGCU pitcher Richard Bleier continues to impress with Orioles," Naples Daily News.
  32. ^ "Orioles Acquire LHP Richard Bleier From Yankees". CBS. February 21, 2017. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  33. ^ Encina, Eduardo A. (February 21, 2017). "Orioles acquire left-hander Richard Bleier in trade with Yankees". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  34. ^ a b Ethel Hilsenroth (August 4, 2017). "For ERA leader Richard Bleier, strikeouts don’t matter," Jewish Baseball News.
  35. ^ a b "2017 MLB Baseball Pitching Statistics and League Leaders," ESPN.
  36. ^ "2017 MLB Baseball Pitching Statistics and League Leaders," ESPN.
  37. ^ Matt Kremnitzer (October 5, 2017). "Can The Orioles Rely On Richard Bleier?", Camden Depot.
  38. ^ Sam Miller (April 11, 2018). "Your New Favorite Reliever Power Rankings: Eight guys to love you've never heard of," ESPN.
  39. ^ "Despite historic start to career, Orioles reliever Richard Bleier taking no time to reflect," Baltimore Sun.
  40. ^ "Orioles notes: O'Day to have season-ending hamstring surgery," Baltimore Sun.
  41. ^ David Ginsburg (June 15, 2018) "Orioles LHP Bleier likely out for year with shoulder injury" APNews.
  42. ^ "Roch Kubatko on Twitter" (June 16, 2018)
  43. ^ "Orioles' Richard Bleier: Begins to throw," CBS Sports, November 10, 2018.
  44. ^ "2018 MLB Baseball Pitching Statistics and League Leaders," ESPN.
  45. ^ "2018 MLB Baseball Pitching Statistics and League Leaders," ESPN.
  46. ^ "American League Leaderboards » 2018 » Pitchers » Batted Ball Statistics," FanGraphs Baseball.
  47. ^ David Laurila (May 27, 2018). " Richard Bleier’s Brilliance is Unique (and Under the Radar)," FanGraphs Baseball.
  48. ^ Andrew Sodergren (June 28, 2018). "Injury ends former Eagles pitcher, Orioles' Richard Bleier's season," Naples News.
  49. ^ "Major League Leaderboards » 2018 » Pitchers » Standard Statistics," FanGraphs Baseball.
  50. ^ "Major League Leaderboards » 2018 » Relievers » Advanced Statistics," FanGraphs Baseball
  51. ^ Alex Church (October 10, 2018). "Reliever Richard Bleier continued to impress before a season-ending injury," Camden Chat.
  52. ^ Justin Kline (October 15, 2012). "MLB Locals: FGCU's Bleier happy to have been part of Team Israel in World Baseball Classic". Naples News. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  53. ^ Adam Berry (September 21, 2012). "Freiman's second two-HR day lifts Israel into finals". mlb.com. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  54. ^ "Israel vs. South Africa at Roger Dean Stadium - Wednesday, September 19, 2012". mlb.com. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  55. ^ "Israel vs. Spain at Roger Dean Stadium - Friday, September 21, 2012". mlb.com. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  56. ^ "Spain vs. Israel at Roger Dean Stadium - Sunday, September 23, 2012". mlb.com. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  57. ^ ""Richard Bleier"". Jewish Baseball News. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  58. ^ Jim Brockman (March 16, 2017). "Bleier's promised land in Sarasota", Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

External links[edit]