Terry Collins says he’s getting ready to lock in the seven pitchers who will comprise the Mets’ Opening Day bullpen. “Nine guys vying for those seven spots, and they’re going to be getting a lot of pitching,” Collins said. “It’s time to play it like we’re getting ready for the season.”
In my opinion one reliever who has locked onto one of those spots is young righthander Jeurys Familia, who is quickly establishing himself as the most lethal weapon the Mets will have in the pen this season. While Bobby Parnell and Vic Black get most of the limelight, trust me, the rising star in this bunch is Familia.
The hard-throwing 24-year old came into camp fresh off a dominating performance in Winter Ball that had more than one scout raving about his 103 MPH fastball. And only a a week after pitchers and catchers reported, Collins got a glimpse of Familia when he tossed his first bullpen.
Familia is an imposing presence on the mound. When he hurls his 6-foot-4, 230 pound frame towards home plate and that ball flies out of his hand it’s a daunting task for opposing hitters to square up against him.
In early February, Mets VP of player development Paul DePodesta said Familia was the player he was most excited to see this spring. “We expect him to have a breakout year,” DePodesta said. “Now that he’s healthy, I am excited to see him in camp.”
As Spring Training comes to a close, Familia has let his pitching do all the talking. He’s unscored upon in six innings and has allowed just two hits and walk while striking out five.
The best relievers in the game all have that unmistakable swagger, it’s something that grows with experience. Familia’s got that.
What makes Familia stand out to me is how he is already oozing with confidence and pitches so fearlessly.
“I am confident, healthy and I trust my stuff,” said Familia. “When I see a hitter step into the batter’s box, it’s time for me to get serious and go after them.”
It’s going to be fun watching Familia dominate the NL East late in games this season. And my hunch is that by this time next year, he’ll be entering 2015 as the Mets closer.