In my recap Saturday, I didn’t do right by Jeurys Familia by simply stating that the big rightly tossed two perfect innings in the Mets 5-3 win over the Pirates. In a word, of better yet two words, Familia was “downright nasty.”
Once regarded as one of the Mets’ top starting pitching prospects, Familia has adapted well in his new role in the bullpen, and with each new appearance the confidence continues to grow.
“If you have confidence in your stuff, you can throw strikes,” Familia told reporters after his stellar outing this weekend.
One of the things that has held Familia back has been the walks. His 96-98 fastball and killer breaking stuff was nasty, no doubt, but commanding his arsenal has been a problem in the past.
Things didn’t exactly start off well for Familia this season who posted a 4.66 ERA and walked six in eight April appearances. But he soon adjusted and got comfortable with his role, and then turned a sharp corner.
“I’m going to tell you, I have been around a lot of young pitchers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that big a step forward,” manager Terry Collins said on Saturday.“
“There was a time in April you wanted to know if he was going to be able to stick here. All he’s done now is put himself in a position where every close game he’s got to be in the game. He’s got to pitch seven, eight or nine in those close games.”
Familia turned in an impressive performance in May, posting a 1.93 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 18 relief appearances while holding the opposition to a .190 batting average. But June would be even better as his 0.69 ERA and .156 opponent batting average would attest.
Coupled with fellow Nasty Boy, closer Jenrry Mejia, the Mets bullpen is now being headlined by two homegrown flame-throwers who have emerged as top-shelf, late-game relievers. And who knows, a year from now they may even be elite. We’ll have to wait and see, but for now you’ve gotta love how these two have developed.