Mets: A proactive plan for getting Jeurys Familia much needed rest


Traditionally speaking, all teams should win 50 games and lose 50 games.  The age old quandary is what teams do with the remaining 62 games.

With a 59-50 record entering Saturday’s game against the Rays, the Mets were in effect 9 games ahead of the proverbial curve.  After Saturday’s loss in Tampa, they now have 52 games remaining in the regular season.

The Mets’ starting pitching has so far proved itself formidable over the course of the season, while Sandy Alderson addressed several positional and offensive deficiencies at the deadline.  Thus, the Mets are still flirting with post season contention entering the second week of August for the first time in 7 years.

All eyes have now shifted towards New York’s battered and beleaguered bullpen, who’s performance over the remaining games of the season will either play a key role in their continued success, or contribute to the club’s potential demise.

To date, these are just some of the casualties endured by Coach Terry’s bullpen: Josh Edgin and Jack Leathersich required Tommy John surgery, Jenrry Mejia couldn’t kick his PED habit, Jerry Blevins torpedoed any chance of a return after re-injuring himself by slipping off a curb, Alex Torres couldn’t stop walking batters, Rafael Montero, Erik Goeddel, and Buddy Carlyle all got lost in 60-day DL purgatory, and Vic Black has yet to return.

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Roll call now reads like this: Jeurys Familia, Bobby Parnell, Tyler Clippard, Hansel Robles, Carlos Torres, Sean Gilmartin, and Eric O’Flaherty.

As we can well envision, the spotlight will stay particularly focused upon closer Jeurys Familia from this moment forward.  And, yes, as Fate would have it, since the All-Star break Familia has sprung a few reasons to concern ourselves.

Here’s my humble assessment of the situation: Terry Collins can either continue taxing his closer down the stretch, or, devise a proactive plan designed to spell Jeurys Familia prior to the decisive final leg of the regular season.

With a roster move looming upon Michael Cuddyer‘s return, I propose the Mets option both Michael Conforto and Eric Campbell back to Las Vegas for sake of carrying an extra reliever for 10 to 14 days, and do it quickly.  I’m actually unwilling to waste much time executing this idea, that’s why I believe the timing is important.

I admit watching Tyler Clippard surrender a mammoth home run to James Loney Friday night was untimely, unfortunate, and thrusts a monkey wrench into my proposal.  Nevertheless, for better or worse I suggest Terry Collins hand closing duties over the very near-term to Tyler Clippard and Bobby Parnell.

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My thinking – pay now, reap rewards later.  The Mets will clearly ride Jeurys Familia like a mule for as long as he can maintain the load.  Therefore, take care of the animal that takes care of you.  Once adequately refortified, we can unleash the beast upon the competition again.

Now for all that supportive stuff (stats prior to Saturday’s results):

Of the National League’s 40 most oft-utilized relief pitchers in 2014, Jeurys Familia finished 2nd with 76 appearances, while his 77.1 innings pitched tied him for 4th place.

  • For the record, Carlos Torres topped last year’s circuit with 97 innings pitched, while outcast Jenrry Mejia placed second with 93 innings pitched.

Entering Saturday’s action, Familia led the circuit with 43 games finished, while his 51 appearances were a mere 4 behind the N.L. leader.  Only 4 N.L. relievers have logged more than Familia’s 53.2 innings, and all four happen to pitch for sub .500 teams; Justin DeFratus Jr (60.1 inn) and Jeanmar Gomez (55.1) both pitch for Philadelphia, Andrew Chafin (57.0 inn) for Arizona, Michael Blazek (55.2) for Milwaukee.

Prior to the All-Star break, Familia’s 41 appearances likewise fell 4 shy of the N.L. leader, but his 43.1 innings were most among the top 20 relievers in appearances.  Of the 16 N.L. relievers with over 40.0 innings pitched, Miami’s A.J. Ramos has allowed the least amount of hits (19), while Familia (26) allowed the second fewest.  Jeurys tied for second with 27 saves, with only 2 blown opportunities.  He additionally posted a 1.25 ERA and a 0.90 WHiP, issued 13 walks, and fanned 43 batters.

Since the All-Star break, Jeurys Familia has appeared in near half of the Mets 21 games played.  He’s logged 10.1 innings over 10 appearances, posting a whopping 5.23 ERA and 1.25 WHiP over that time.

His recent problems have not necessarily stemmed from lack of control or velocity though, as he is yet to issue a second half walk, and has fanned 10 batters.  Instead, Jeurys Familia’s hits allowed have increased three-fold.  Prior to the break, he posted a 4.3 H/9 average.  After 14 hits allowed since the break, he presently sports an inflated 12.4 H/9 average.

Hence, despite notching his 30th save Friday evening I believe he needs a rest; a short break from the grind.  Simply put, Familia has flattened out and is floating over the plate.  That’s obviously a reliever’s recipe for disaster, as they are in the business of minimizing their repertoires to just 2 pitches.  Starters on the other hand are looking to expand theirs by 3 and sometimes 4 pitches, with the additional luxury of ditching one during bouts of ineffectiveness.  Not so with closers.  Their one/two pitches either over-power, snap, bite, deceive, or result in blown saves and losses.

Moreover, 9 of the National League’s top 10 leading relievers in appearances pitch for contenders.  The St. Louis Cardinals boast the top three.  That’s in direct contrast to the aforementioned top 3 leading relievers in innings pitched, whom play for second division teams.

This season, Jeurys Familia is actually 12th thus far in total appearances, yet 4th in innings pitched.  Do you sense the trend, or is it just me?

Mets starters also presently lead the N.L. in innings pitched, which further complicates Coach Terry’s logistical challenge.  The club will seek to strike a fine balance between regulating (or loosening) innings limits, while still having their young starting rotation available through a pennant race, or better, a potential playoff run.  This will require spot starts, skipped starts, or even shortened starts, all the while imposing yet another challenge, as my fellow Rising Apple writer Brian Farrell explains, upon a still evolving bullpen.

I realize my call for real rest is easier said than done.  And, that my idea may strike you as some supremely cocky plan better suited for the Gashouse Gorillas whom could willingly blow a few games in the standings and still annihilate the competition (…except against Bugs Bunny, that is).

Or, that there are those who’d belittle my call for rest and relaxation as pure nonsense, in so far as this is a pennant race and the Mets should just suck it up and go full throttle ahead.  After all, Jeurys Familia is 25-years old, right?

I’m old school; I get that.  Actually, I usually preach it.  However, there are also reasons they refer to these as the dog days of Summer.

In fact, here’s something else I learned back in Old School.

The Joe Pignatano Tomato Garden Laws of Bullpen Relief state:

  • Velocity (Flat) / 9 inn = Crush Squared.

On a more serious note, I close by offering you one last caveat of relevant statistical data.  Of Jeurys Familia’s 30 saves, 9 have been of the 4+ inning variety:

  • 3 saves of 4-outs.
  • 4 saves of 5-outs.
  • 2 saves of 6 outs.

Just saying…

Come together, right now, and debate.