Entering the 2013 season, the New York Mets had very high hopes for young right hander Jeurys Familia. Familia pitched in eight games for the Mets before he was shut down because of surgery on his right elbow to remove bone spurs and chips, which was expected to end his season. Although Familia returned to make one appearance in September, for all intents and purposes, his season was lost.
With New York’s bullpen being far from a sure thing this spring, Familia hopes to earn himself another shot to go north with the big league club at the end of March. The hard-throwing neophyte certainly possesses the arsenal to be a dominant reliever as he gets his fastball into the mid to high 90s and complements it with a wipeout slider that serves as his out pitch.
Although Familia also possessed a few other pitches which he used coming up as a starter in the Mets’ minor leagues, he’s ostensibly become a two-pitch pitcher with his transition to the bullpen full-time. Familia’s slider is his bread and butter, as it comes in in the high 80s and suddenly breaks down and away from right-handed batters and in on the legs of lefties. Familia works heavily off of his fastball, which he has to find a way to locate better to improve his efficiency, but mixes in the slider a generous amount to keep hitters honest.
Beyond Bobby Parnell, Vic Black and Josh Edgin, there is quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding New York’s pen, and that could certainly play to Familia’s advantage. While the Mets don’t figure to throw him into the fire of being the top setup man right off the bat, he’s got every chance to earn that spot as the year goes on. Black is the incumbent to bridge the eighth-inning to Parnell, but on days where he needs a rest, Familia will likely be one of the top options to replace him.
Two places where Familia will have to improve in order to take the next step are refining his control and effectively retiring left-handed hitters. Familia’s control has always been his Achilles heel coming up through the Mets system, and it stands to reason that any success he’ll have will be when he figures out how to throw strikes more consistently.
As with many other right-handed pitchers, Familia struggles to retire lefties consistently and he’ll have to figure out how to keep them honest, whether it be with his slider or adding an effective two seam fastball, changeup or splitter to his repertoire.
Finally back in good health, the Mets will be keeping a close on eye on Familia’s performance this spring, and you can bet he’s one of the favorites to make the 25-man roster. How effective he can be in limiting his mistakes and improving upon that which has got him this far will be a huge key to the Mets bullpen this season.
With the kind of raw stuff he possesses, if Familia can put two and two together this season, it’ll go a long way towards improving an awfully suspect Mets pen.