Remember back in spring training, when manager Mickey Callaway said he might spread out the save opportunities among his bullpen staff instead of relying on just Jeurys Familia? So far though, Familia has been getting the bulk of the save opportunities. Though the weekend the entire Mets’ relief corps has 14 saves this year, and Familia has 12 of them. Jacob Rhame has one save, and Robert Gsellman picked up one this past Sunday against the D-backs. Familia had just recorded a save against Arizona the previous night, so it was not surprising that Gsellman got the call out of the bullpen.
Familia has well deserved getting the save chances this year, he is having a fine season. As of this writing he has 21 IP, with 26 strikeouts, an ERA of 1.71 and a WHIP of 0.95. His 12 saves put him in a tie for third among NL relievers so far this year.
The strapping right-hander became the closer of the staff in 2015, the year the Mets won the pennant. He followed that up with a good 2016, as the Mets won a wild card berth. In 2017 he was suspended and hurt and far less effective, and the team plunged to a losing season. As Familia has rebounded this year, so has the team.
There is some cause for concern when it comes to blown saves. In 2015 Familia had 43 saves and five blown saves, a ratio of better than 8-1. This year Familia already has 3 blown saves, to go with his 12 saves, giving him a ratio of 4-1. Those blown saves came at a bad time, all three being in the latter part of April as the Mets fell back to earth after their tremendous start. Particularly tough was his blown save on April 16 against the Nats. That was the game in which the Mets opened up a big lead on Washington, only to lose the game 8-6.
The 4-3 loss to Atlanta on April 20 was another hard pill to swallow, that game ended with Familia on the mound, yielding a walkoff squeeze bunt.
As noted, those three blown saves occurred in April, and this month Familia is back to being one of the top closers in the league. He still has the velocity, his fastball has averaged out at 96.8 MPH this season. That is just a tick off his 2015 velocity.
Familia has been a little under the radar this year, with more attention than before on the two multi-inning relievers, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, who have been lights out this year. It seems like there is a correlation between Familia’s success and the teams’ success. Familia had good years in 2016 and 2016, and the Mets made the postseason. In 2017 Familia was not good, and neither was the team. Perhaps a sustained season of success for Familia in 2018 could be a factor in a good year for the Mets.