By now, every New York Mets‘ fan knows that Jeurys Familia’s 2019 season went about as bad as anyone could ever expect.
He had by far the highest walk rate of his career, at 6.30 free passes per each nine innings pitched. His final ERA, 5.70, was horrific, and when you think that the team had him throw 60.0 innings, you can imagine that the bullpen suffered a lot.
However, a slimmed-down Jeurys Familia hopes that the weight loss (he shed 30 pounds in the offseason), coupled with a new grip on his splitter will lead to better results in 2020. The Mets sure are hopeful, too.
After all, Familia has been dominant before. His career ERA is 3.16, and he has had seasons of 2.21, 1.85 and 2.55.
In fact, between 2014 and 2017, the Mets’ reliever had a 2.42 ERA. “My job here is to be better,” Familia told Alyson Footer of MLB.com. “It’s not to be better than any other teammate — it’s just always been more of a personal goal to continue on and be better every single year.”
The New York Mets bullpen should be stacked if Familia returns to his best form. They signed Dellin Betances and have Edwin Diaz (who is hoping for a rebound season of his own) Justin Wilson, Brad Brach, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, among others.
Familia worked extensively with the New York Mets’ pitching coach Jeremy Hefner to change the grip on his split-fingered pitch with the intention of differentiating it more from the sinker.
Up to this point, there was no notable difference in each pitch’s speed. Now, the splitter is noticeably slower, which provides a different view for the batter.
The Mets’ reliever is happy with his progress
Familia seems to be content with the results so far. “The biggest difference between my splitter and sinker was velocity, and how I throw it,” Familia said. “Right now the velocity [on the splitter] is probably about 8 miles an hour less than what I usually throw it. I think it’s been really good for me. Now hitters don’t know what to expect, and I feel like that drop-off has helped me a lot.”
In the past, the difference was between 3 and 5 mph, and now, it is almost double that.
“He’s really happy with how his split has been working,” manager Luis Rojas said. “The depth of it is the most he’s had in his career with the new grip. It plays really well off his fastball. I’m very impressed with his stuff.”
Spring training hasn’t necessarily been successful from a results standpoint. He has a 2.25, but it comes with a 2.00 WHIP. However, the sample size is very small and nobody should be concerned yet.
“For me, this has been the best Spring Training of my career,” Familia said. “I’ve been prepared, I’ve been getting the results that I’ve wanted, and so far it’s been really good for me.”