Blevins has been much better recently. While Soriano has been shaky since his demotion from the closer role, Blevins has struck out 11 of the past 18 batters he’s faced across five scoreless appearances. His curveball has been sharper in the past two weeks than at any time all season.
But the Pirates and Giants offer different challenges. The Pirates are powered by right-handed hitters Andrew McCutchen, Russell Martin, Josh Harrison and Starling Marte. Left-hander Travis Snider is their best threat off the bench, and switch-hitting second baseman Neil Walker hits right-handers better than lefties. But the Nationals may favor an extra right-handed option against Pittsburgh, which would bode well for Soriano. He has been a disaster late in the season, but he also owns more experience and, just three months ago, he nearly made the all-star team.
The Giants, meanwhile, feature a lineup with left-handers Brandon Belt, Travis Ishikawa, Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford. Pablo Sandoval, a switch hitter, has been excellent this season against right-handed pitching but posted a meager .563 OPS against lefties. Hunter Pence and Buster Posey, two right-handed hitters, are their best players, but it’s enough of a lefty-heavy team that you wouldn’t mind having an extra southpaw in the bullpen with Detwiler and Thornton.
All things being equal, Blevins would be the choice. If the Pirates win, it would give Soriano his best hope to make the roster. Given that Soriano is at the end of a two-year, $28 million contract and he had a 0.97 ERA at the all-star break, it’s kind of amazing that it’s a conversation.