For several years the New York Mets have had a major problem with their bullpen. No matter who they brought in to fill roles it just never worked out. We have seen many faces come and go, but they finally have found a group of guys capable of being successful. This season the Mets’ bullpen has been one of the best in MLB, and a lot of that success has to do with setup man Jeurys Familia, who is in the midst of a breakout season.
Familia made his debut with the Mets in 2012 when he was a September call-up. He would then get another cup of coffee with the Mets in 2013 but never really could find his groove. He finally has found his niche in 2014 and has been one of the best relievers in all of baseball. He has been so successful this season because he finally has command over all of his pitches.
When we saw Familia pitch for the Mets in 2012 and 2013 he was very erratic. He walked way too many batters to be successful on the major league level. Prior to this season he made 17 appearances for the Mets and walked 18 batters, which is certainly not a recipe for success at any level. Plain and simple, walks kill and it hurt Familia in his first two stints with the Mets.
His stuff was great when he first came up; that wasn’t the issue; he just couldn’t throw strikes consistently. This season we have seen the pitcher who was raved about as he made his way through the minor league system. His fastball is electric, he is always around the 95-98 mph range and his slider is wicked. He is still getting a feel for his slider, but when he breaks it off the right way it is a nightmare for opposing batters.
Familia is the workhorse for the Mets out of the bullpen. On the year he has made 61 appearances which is tied for fifth in MLB. In those 61 appearances, he is 2-3 with a 1.97 ERA. He has struck out 56 batters and recorded four saves. The Mets were in desperate need of a guy who can just shut it down in the late stages of a game, and they found their man in Familia.
He is just another example of how legitimate their young pitching is. We saw Matt Harvey steal the show last season, but this year we have seen Familia, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Jenrry Mejia, Vic Black and Josh Edgin all come into their own. All these guys have been solid for the Mets this season, and it’s a shame that they don’t get more notoriety than they do.
This season Familia has filled the role of setup man, but there is no doubt in my mind that one day he can be a closer for this team. We have seen him close some games out this year. His last save was very impressive, as it was a five-out save where we saw him get out of a bases loaded jam against the Oakland Athletics. With Mejia dealing with multiple injuries, I wouldn’t be shocked if Familia was promoted to closer.
The Mets have a good one on their hands in Familia. He truly is the real deal, and it is about time they have a guy like this coming out of the bullpen. Like the rest of their young pitching, he is only going to get better the more he learns in the major leagues. I look forward to continuing to watch him grow and develop into one of the better relievers in the game.