It’s been a very strange beginning of the season for the New York Mets. From Opening Day being delayed, to all the rainouts, things haven’t gone as planned. I was expecting the Mets to be carried by Jacob deGrom and their offense. deGrom has been as advertised, if not better. But the offense has underperformed, to say the least.
The newly minted $341 million-dollar man Francisco Lindor has slashed .190/.307/.281 with just three home runs and eight RBI. He’s been a massive disappointment thus far. Guys who we all expect to hit like Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and Dom Smith have all really underwhelmed as well.
The Mets continue to struggle with runners in scoring position and have averaged just 3.5 runs per game, 28th in all of baseball. Somehow, with the offense underperforming, the Mets sit at 18-16 and are alone in first place in the National League East. The reason for this is the pitching.
Jacob deGrom of course has been the best pitcher in the game this year. Taijuan Walker and Marcus Stroman have been very solid as well.
With all of that being said, the saving grace for the Mets has to be the bullpen.
After having rough first outings, Trevor May and Aaron Loup have been superb. Edwin Diaz has been great in save situations, and it seems that Miguel Castro delivers a scoreless inning every day. But one player who I wanted to be cut or traded before the year was Jeurys Familia. And I am here to admit I am glad the Mets held on to him.
Familia has won me over this year and I believe he can be a usable arm after suffering through the last two years of him not being usable. So far this season in his 13 appearances, Familia has gone 1-0 with a 3.07 ERA in 11.2 innings pitched. He has allowed four earned runs this season and three of them came in his appearance at Tampa Bay thanks to two Baltimore chops that somehow turned into doubles. That whole appearance he was victimized by soft contact and getting unlucky, it’s hard to put those runs on him.
Something he has done this year that the Mets weren’t able to trust him with the last couple of years is come into a game in the middle of an inning and get an out. He’s done that multiple times this year already including striking out Bryce Harper to earn his first save since re-signing with the Mets in 2019.
I believe that this reliable production is sustainable for Familia. Yes, the walks are high as he is allowing 4.6 BB/9, but that’s much lower than it has been the last couple of years and he has always had some trouble throwing strikes.
According to baseball savant, Familia’s expected ERA is at 2.35 and that is due to Familia being in the 90th percentile or higher in Average Exit Velocity, HardHit%, and Barrel%. Familia’s bread and butter are forcing weak contact on the ground and he’s excelled at that this year with his 62.2 GB%, the highest it’s been since 2016.
Assuming Familia can continue to force soft contact on the ground, he can be a valuable piece for this bullpen. Is he the dominant closer he once was? Of course not. But I think he can be a sixth or seventh inning guy who can be relied upon to get some critical outs when guys like May, Castro, Lugo, and Diaz need a breather.
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2021 has been a great bounce-back year so far for Familia and hopefully, it can last the entirety of the season.