Jeurys Familia has been a good reliever for a long time. He is 31 and has spent most of his career with the New York Mets, he went to a World Series with them, and has a 3.20 ERA in 439.1 innings during his nine-year MLB tenure.
Yet the Mets are, at this point in spring training, concerned about the right-handerâ€™s control. Familia has given more than six walks per nine innings in the last two seasons, and itâ€™s worrisome that he canâ€™t throw strikes consistently.
According to MLB.comâ€™s Mets beat writer Anthony DiComo, the Mets â€œare concerned enough with Jeurys Familiaâ€™s control that they have instructed James McCann and other catchers to have Familia aim for the middle of the plate. They hope that in that fashion, the natural movement on Familiaâ€™s pitches — particularly his sinker — will matter more than the precise location of them.â€
It sounds like a good strategy. Familia had a decent 3.71 ERA last season, but it wonâ€™t last long if he keeps running a 7.76 K/9 and a 6.41 BB/9.
The Metsâ€™ struggling relievers
Talking about Familia and fellow struggling reliever Dellin Betances, Metsâ€™ manager Luis Rojas showed faith in them. â€œThey bring so much — their experience, their demeanor in the clubhouse, their demeanor out there,â€ he said. â€œTheyâ€™re both working on new things.â€
Familia delivered 31 pitches on Thursday, and he pitched a scoreless inning despite two walks and a fly ball to the warning track.
Familia said he felt â€œexcellentâ€ and said his plan is to incorporate a four-seamer with more regularity.
â€œItâ€™s not a new pitch,â€ Familia said through an interpreter. â€œBut this season, and this Spring Training as well, Iâ€™ve been trying to incorporate that more.â€
The new pitch mix can help, but if Familia canâ€™t consistently throw strikes, it would be very hard for him to repeat a sub-4.00 ERA in 2021.