The New York Mets managed to assemble a quality bullpen for the 2020 season, at least on paper. Sure, we saw last season that it may not always materialize. However, there is a stronger foundation this year.
There is the obvious bounceback candidate Edwin Diaz, the new fireman Dellin Betances, and the 2019 hero Seth Lugo. After those three, Robert Gsellman adds some stability, as do Brad Brach and Justin Wilson.
The New York Metsâ€™ bullpen wild card
The wild card here, however, is none other than Jeurys Familia. A right shoulder injury bothered him (and the Mets) for large portions of the 2019 season. That played a big part in his disappointing 5.70 ERA (4.88 FIP) in 60 innings. He has had control issues before, but not to the point of handing 6.30 BB/9. His BB% was 15.3%, in the bottom 2% of the league.
With better health, more consistency, and the help of new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, things are looking up. We know Familia can be dominant for the Mets: he had a 2.21 ERA in 2014, 1.85 in 2015 and 2.55 in 2016. In all of those seasons he surpassed 70 frames, and in the last two, he saved 43 and 51 games, respectively.
Expecting Familia to replicate those numbers may be unfair. However, the team would be thrilled if he can come back to 2018 levels. That year, he had a 3.13 ERA (2.65 FIP) in 72 innings with the Mets and the Oakland Aâ€™s. He struck out 10.38 batters per nine innings. That was not too long ago!
Is it possible?
He is not old. Familia will play out the entirety of the 2020 season with 30 years old. A pitcher with that age is, usually, still in his prime. So why are we so quick to dismiss the notion that he can have a bounceback season?
The Mets will surely consider a trade if they have the possibility of doing so. After all, he will be expensive as he is on the books for $22 million between 2020 and 2021. But as long as he is a member of the organization, everyone should pull to the same side.
Rescuing Jeurys Familia from mediocrity should be one of the primary goals for the New York Mets. Itâ€™s doable, and itâ€™s not so far-fetched. The best of all is that it could pay huge dividends down the road.