From the moment Jeurys Familia joined the Mets’ ball club I have been a loyal fan of his. I was in awe to see how effective his power sinker was; he could make hitters look foolish at the plate. In the second half of 2015 when he added a splitter to his arsenal (which for some reason disappeared in 2016) I labeled him as nearly “unhittable.”
Although Familia led the MLB in saves this past season with 51, I’m beginning to feel unsure about him although I still have reasonable hope. Twice when the Mets were counting on him the most he let the team down.
The first time the Mets had made a World Series appearance in 15 years, Familia struggled. What Mets fan could forget the game-tying homer he gave up to Alex Gordon in the 9th inning of game 1? The Royals, of course, ended up winning that game. Familia went on to blow 2 more save opportunities that series.
I’m not here to say Familia is the reason why the Mets lost the 2015 World Series because he’s not. In fact, it seemed almost nobody showed up to play, and that’s including Daniel Murphy who had the historic postseason run until then. Familia was also thrown into pressure situations caused by the relievers proceeding him, but with the way he performed throughout the entire season (playoffs included) it was expected of him to get the job done.
This was his first ever World Series, as was it for just about the entire roster, so yes, that was a learning experience for Familia and the team. Within those 51 saves he had in the ensuing season, a significant number of those had Met fans on the edge of their seats prying he would close it out – which he generally would. I have always been adamant about saying “he gets the job done,” but who knows how long he could keep that up?
In the Wild Card game against the Giants, Noah Syndergaard pitched what might have been his best game so far. It was 0-0 going into the 9th, on comes Familia, and the Mets lose 3-0. Again, he couldn’t come through in a high-pressured situation when the team needed him most. It will be interesting to see how he fairs in situations like this during the 2017 season.
As I stated earlier, I absolutely still have reasonable hopes for Familia. His sinker is still one of the sharpest in the league, and if he can bring back that splitter of his, then the league better try and avoid him. Perhaps he gets another shot in the postseason this year, perhaps not, but I will still, for the most part, feel confident with him on the mound; however, I will have those daunting memories lingering in the back of my mind.