Mets: Three potential openers that could be utilized out of the bullpen
3) Right-handed pitcher Jeruys Familia
Jeurys Familia enters the 2021 season similar to Robert Gsellman with more questions than definitive answers in terms of a potential role with the Mets. While Familia had himself a bit of a bounce-back in 2020 after a disastrous 2019 season, he was frequently shopped this offseason due to his large salary and his fit within the bullpen.
Familia could have an opportunity to leave his mark on this year’s ballclub by making some appearances as an opener for the Mets. It’s not uncommon for many Mets fans to reach for the Rolaids in the medicine cabinet when watching Familia pitch in high-leverage situations or when he is coming into a situation where things aren’t exactly falling into place for him, as it seems an implosion on the mound is inevitable.
However, it may come to Familia’s benefit for Manager Luis Rojas to put him in a position to succeed by starting the first inning of a ball game in a low leverage situation. In Familia’s career batters are only hitting .222 against Familia in low leverage situations. Furthermore, the first batter to face Familia in a game is only hitting .213 throughout Familia’s entire career which is a great way to throw off the balance of an aggressive lead-off hitter early.
One area that Familia needs to continue to improve on is his command, as it seems to be an area that has continuously bit him over the past couple of seasons. In both 2019 and 2020, Familia has averaged around a 15% walk percentage, which is a far cry from his 9% walk percentage back in 2018.
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I don’t believe you can afford to continuously put Familia in high-leverage situations with as wild as his command has been lately until proven otherwise. It also seems that Trevor May, Seth Lugo (when healthy), and Edwin Diaz will primarily be the late-inning options for the Mets this season, which leaves Familia on the outside looking in. I believe allowing Familia to potentially come in as an opener should the Mets move in that direction, could be a way to better utilize him moving forward in his walk year.