Jeurys Familia: Mets Closer Of The Future?
Insofar as the Mets’ bullpen is concerned the only press coming into this season was whether or not Vic Black could usurp Bobby Parnell to become the next Amazin’ closer. However after just a few weeks of spring training games, Black has been demoted and there is another young fireballer–Jeurys Familia–Mets fans should become acquainted with.
In reality Jeurys (pronounced J-eh-OO-reehs) Familia is not a new name in prospect circles. An international free agent in 2007, ROTOscouting’s Mike Newman scouted him early in 2009 and then again later that season, saying this about the young righty:
Going forward, I’m extremely bullish based on the continuous improvement I’m seeing in his repertoire. He has made enormous strides since I first saw him and should continue to do so. Somebody thank Marc Valdes, the Sand Gnats pitching coach, for doing a tremendous job with Familia, as well as Robert Carson and Kyle Allen. With Familia flashing two plus pitches and a fiery demeanor, his downside potential is that of a late inning reliever. With the development of his change up and more consistent primary offerings, Familia could take off in 2010 and not look back.
He added to his resume by representing the World Team in the All-Star Futures game in 2010. Familia peaked in 2012 as the #89 ranked prospect for Baseball Prospectus (#90 for MLB.com) after punching out 132 against 43 walks in 124 innings across high-A and AA ball. However, a poor showing in 2012 (4.73 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 128K/73BB, in 137 IP), including a brief (12 IP) stint with the big club, effectively tarnished his rising star, and a subsequent right-elbow surgery limited his 2013 campaign to only 9 innings.
Jeurys Familia – Mets Bullpen Opportunity
At 24-years old Familia is finally healthy and ready to turn the page. The Mets’ brass agrees and Terry Collins acknowledges that his repertoire, which includes a 95-mph fastball (that can touch 98), sinker, and low-80’s slider is “unhittable” when he commands the strike zone (watch the 2nd batter below):
To date however, he has 23 innings of major league experience, posting a 5.09 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, and an 18/18 K/BB ratio. Those numbers will prohibit Jeurys-Familia-Mets-closer talk for the moment, but the small sample size doesn’t preclude him from taking on a bigger role this year.
That’s what it comes down to in the end: control and opportunity. Taking a look at the Mets’ bullpen from 2013, it is anybody’s ballgame when it comes to the later innings if Parnell is dinged up:
2013 New York Mets Bullpen Team Rankings
WAR IP L K/9 BB/9 HR/9 LOB% GB% ERA 27th 12th 6th 30th 18th T-8th 27th T-10th 22nd
As a group they logged an above average amount of innings, left tons of men on base, and struck out few batters. While they were above average in getting ground ball outs, they racked up losses and displayed poor control overall. The whispering for Jeurys Familia Mets closer rumors will gain traction soon should he continue to pitch well.
Additionally while there were some decent individual performances in the pen, many question marks remain for the group:
- Will Parnell’s velocity return after off-season neck surgery? As of March 25, it was still down in the upper-80’s.
- What should fans expect from Jose Valverde after his 2013 implosion in Detroit as he fills in for Parnell? Case in point:
Valverde added to the 40 this afternoon. Tonight, he just threw a wild pitch, allowing a run to score.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig), Mets Beat Writer via Twitter, March 26, 2014
- Can Gonzalez Germen and Scott Rice reign in the walks in the middle innings and against lefties?
- Can non-roster invitees John Lannan (4.6 K/9 in 2013) and Kyle Farnsworth (minor-league deal) provide depth and add value to this group?
The upside of the group is limited. Parnell is struggling to regain closer form as the regular season begins. Setup man Jose Valverde has inconsistent control and problems giving up home runs. These factors will create an opening for a healthy Familia to assume late-inning duties before long. Pre-injury he posted nearly 10 K/9 with a slightly below average 3.5 BB/9 rate in Double-A. If Familia can improve his control and continue to break catcher’s mitts, the right-handed reliever will find himself pitching in high leverage situations.
Familia is a part of a new generation of Mets’ pitching talent ROTOscouting’s Chris Blessing is excited about. The current lack of talent in the bullpen, like their counterparts in the Bronx, will translate to Familia throwing key innings in 2014. If command of his fastball and slider improves, Jeurys Familia & Mets fans will be forced to learn how to spell the first name of their new closer.
31 Mar 2014 / Joseph Pytleski / 2
Categories: MLB Analysis
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