New York Mets rookie reliever Jeurys Familia received some tough news yesterday, as he will need elbow surgery to remove bone chips in his throwing arm. The news of the surgery comes nearly a month after Familia was placed on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis. The injury is both an unfortunate setback in Familia’s young career and a blow to the Mets bullpen.
Familia hasn’t pitched since May 8 and made just eight big league appearances this season. After a rough start to the season and a demotion to the minors, Familia began to make progress towards the end of April and early part of May before being put on the disabled list, as he was being put in more meaningful situations and was pitching effectively in them.
The surgery is expected to keep Familia out for six to eight weeks on top of the month he has already missed, which means it could be late July or August before he is back on the mound. That’s a lot of time for him to miss in a year where he was adapting to a new role in the bullpen and facing big league competition on a regular basis for the first time.
The fact that he was beginning to pitch well before the injury makes the situation all the more frustrating for the young flamethrower.
As for the Mets, the effect of losing of Familia for an extended period of time is twofold. First, he was becoming an important part of their bullpen, and without him, the Mets have been forced to carry less reliable pitchers on their roster.
Second, the Mets are hopeful that Familia will be a fixture in their bullpen for years to come, possibly in a late-inning role, and not being able to watch him perform makes it harder for them to evaluate him and determine how he might fit into their future plans, which is something the Mets need to be doing for all of the players in the organization the rest of the season.
With modern medical technology, and perhaps a little luck, the Mets should get Familia back at some point this season. However, needing bone chips removed is never a good sign for a pitcher, and the missed time will be detrimental to both Familia’s future and the Mets present.