Mets reliever Jeurys Familia entered the Sunday game against the Phils in the 8th inning, and has happened all too often this year, Familia ended up throwing gasoline on the fire. The score was tied 2-2 when Familia entered the game, with a runner on first, but the inning ended with the Phils ahead 5-2, which turned out to be the final score. Famiia had issued a couple of walks as well as the big blow, a double by Scott Kingery that drove home three Phils.
What has happened to Familia, a lock down reliever for much of his tenure with the Mets, until this season? The stats for the big right-hander are down right ugly. He’s pitched 48.1 innings with an ERA at 5.96. He’s yielded a very high 39 walks in those 48 plus innings, and it seems like a lot of those walked batters have come around to score, as they did against the Phils. His WHIP stands at 1.80. For a point of reference, Drew Gagnon actually has a better WHIP than Familia this year at 1.72. That’s the same Drew Gagnon who looked like he was auditioning for a batting practice pitcher slot too often in his tenure with the Mets this year.
As noted control has been a big problem for Familia, and not just due to the high number of bases on balls. When you’re walking too many batters and falling behind on the hitters, the tendency unfortunately is to throw a pitch that catches too much plate, much to the batter’s delight.
It should be noted that Familia’s fastball velocity has decreased over the past few years. Back in 2015, when Familia was the closer on the pennant-bound Mets, his average fastball velocity was 98.1, according to FanGraphs. This year it is 95.7, not bad, but nothing special for a reliever. He does still rack up strikeouts, he is credited with 54 so far this season, a little more than a batter per inning struck out.
Familia had been showing some signs of life until his recent meltdown in Philly, which makes his reversion to the bad Familia all the more maddening. Is it his confidence? Is there some mechanical flaw leading to his control problem? Does his diminished velocity play into the equation?
As long as the Mets still have a pulse in the wild card race, and that pulse picked up yesterday after the Mets thrashed the Nats, Familia should be held out of high leverage situations. He has proven to be too inconsistent, not enough Dr. Jekyll, and too much Mr. Hyde. There are increasing numbers of good options for the Mets from their relief corps, Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson, Edwin Diaz, Luis Avilan and the improving Paul Sewald all should get the call in close games over Familia.
There is still hope for Familia, especially for next year. He’s only 29, perhaps an off season of rest and maybe some mechanical tweaks from pitching coach Phil Regan in spring training can get Familia back on track for next year and the year after. That would be good, especially since Familia’s contract runs through 2021.