Mets closer Jeurys Familia is dominating

By Justin Weiss

When Jenrry Mejia was dealt an 80-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, Jeurys Familia was literally handed the closer role. He took it and ran.

With Mejia out, Bobby Parnell working himself back from Tommy John surgery and Vic Black also on the disabled list, Familia was provided with the ideal opportunity to etch himself into the back of the Mets bullpen.

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As somebody put it, “Mejia’s suspension was the best thing to happen to New York this season.”

Familia has appeared in 17 games, recording 13 saves and an impressive 20 strikeouts over 17 innings. His save total is perched atop the National League, while his WPA (Win Probability Added) ranks second in the league.

“When we tried to use it as a strike [last season], it was hit or miss,” Mets catcher Anthony Recker said about Familia’s slider, whereas this season, “It’s been devastating.”

“Every bullpen pitcher has that kind of moment where you have to step up and learn from the bad moments you had, the bad games you had,” Familia told the Wall Street Journal. “That’s what I did.”

Familia has added tons of value for the Mets as the team’s first legitimate shutdown closer since Billy Wagner in 2006. He’s making it easy for the Mets to overlook Mejia’s suspension, and with the epidemic of bullpen injuries, that is essential.

All of this adds to his case as the long-term solution at the back of the bullpen. If his first couple of weeks on the job are an indication of his future, it appears that the 25-year-old will be closing games for the Mets for years to come.

Jenrry Mejia’s time in Flushing took a rough turn with the suspension, or at least the Mets have that feeling.

“I hope there’s no spot for him in the bullpen when he’s done serving his suspension,” Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson said. Though that comment may have to do with Alderson’s hope that the seven other pitches are pitching well, not any ill-will toward Mejia.

“It’s obviously disappointing. Not only do you cost yourself 80 games and don’t get paid, but you’re hurting everybody in here. You’re letting down your teammates and I think that probably means just as much, if not more, than hurting yourself,” Mets captain David Wright said.

The Mets will likely keep the young, cost-controlled reliever in Flushing. PED’s didn’t turn the Mets away from Bartolo Colon, Marlon Byrd and Danny Muno. It would appear fairly hypocritical for New York to ship Mejia out, even though he didn’t apologize to fans or teammates.

An apt question also pertains to Bobby Parnell’s future. Will the flame-throwing righty ever be able to regain his velocity?

The Salisbury, North Carolina native averaged 95 MPH on his fastball in 2013, but he was sitting between 90 and 92 MPH during his latest rehab appearance while reaching back for 95 and 96 a few times. Also, he is being paid nearly $3.5 million per year, a large amount for a pitcher who is injured more than he is healthy.

With Jeurys Familia finally locating his fastball and developing a nasty slider, one must wonder what the Mets will do with the injury-riddled Parnell and the currently-suspended Mejia.