He used to be one of the most elite closers in the game. But that now seems like light years ago and these days, nobody uses the word “elite” to describe Mets closer Jeurys Familia. Good? Definitely. Great? Possibly. Elite? No freaking way.
I’m not going to cry you a river over last night’s loss to the last place Marlins. Unfortunately, we squandered yet another brilliant start by right-hander Jacob deGrom and he was denied what would have been his 50th career win with the Mets. The offense was hardly blameless after scoring just one run in support of his gem, but moving on…
Whatever happened to that grand strategy espoused by manager Mickey Callaway all spring training long in which he would not have a regular closer, but instead use the right pitcher for each situation and matchup in order to maximize our win probability.
“Don’t be surprised if you see Familia brought into the seventh, or if Swarzak closes out the ninth”, Callaway said. It all sounded so good. It all sounded so right. It all sounded so ahead of the curve. Problem is, it never happened.
Instead, Familia still remains the one and only closer in that Mets bullpen, having made 23 appearances this season and he finished all but two of those games. Upon first glance, you look at Familia’s 2.35 ERA, 1.130 WHIP and 11.9 K/9, and you can see why he’s earned 13 saves which are the fourth most in the majors.
However, his four blown saves are the most in MLB and what was apparent and disconcerting last night was the lack of action on his four-seam and slider, and how his once lethal sinker lacked downward movement and was being thrown too high in the zone. Everything was up and everything looked hittable.
Hopefully Familia figures it all out as the Mets embark on an important 8-game road trip with a quartet of contests against the Milwaukee Brewers followed by another four games against the first-place Atlanta Braves. But in all honesty, the recent trends are a bit worrisome for Familia.
Jeurys Familia in 2018
First 9 appearances:
0.00 ERA, .121 BA, .368 OPS, 10 IP, 4 H, 7 Saves, 0 Blown Saves
Last 14 appearances:
4.15 ERA, .269 BA, .776 OPS, 13 IP, 14 H, 6 Saves, 4 Blown Saves
Familia told reporters that he felt perfectly fine when he entered the game, so if we take him at his word then we’re not looking at a potential injury impacting his recent performance. It comes down to proper mechanics and more importantly – execution.
Let me move ahead because there’s something else on my mind regarding Familia, who is a free agent after this season.
How should the Mets move forward with Jeurys Familia in the coming months?
Should the Mets try to sign him to an extension, which would likely look like a four-year deal worth roughly $45 million when you look at what fellow closers Mark Melancon, Wade Davis and Craig Kimbrel recently signed for?
Should the Mets consider dealing him at the trade deadline and get the most that they can? Despite his recent struggles, you still have to consider him a top ten closer and his career marks of a 2.95 FIP, 146 ERA+ and 1.202 WHIP are extremely impressive anyway you slice it. In 2016, the Pirates dealt Melancon while they were still in contention, so if the Mets were to deal Familia, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that we’re punting the season.
Or do the Mets just hang onto him and extend him a qualifying offer which is likely to be worth roughly $18 million dollars this offseason?
If Familia reject the QO, the Mets will receive a first round compensation pick only if Familia signs a deal worth more than $50 million dollars. Otherwise the Mets would get a Round B pick which is in between the second and third rounds of the draft. If Familia accepts the QO ala Neil Walker, the Mets will have themselves a heckuva pricey closer.
How would you play it if you were in Sandy Alderson’s position? It’s going to be interesting to see how this all plays out.