Jeurys Familia‘s return to the New York Mets did not go as planned during the 2019 season. Familia’s control issues caused him to put up the highest ERA of his career. While 2020 was not a return to All-Star form, Familia still proved to be a reliable option in the Mets bullpen.
Jeurys Familia's last pitch of the night was another beauty. pic.twitter.com/2vGYis5hSM
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 19, 2020
We forget that Familia came into camp in February with a significant weight loss. His weight caused issues in repeating his complicated delivery in 2019, and the change helped revive his career. Familia struggled through his first seven outings of the season with a 5.91 ERA. The control issues remained as he walked six in 6.1 innings, but batters only had a .391 slugging against him.
Finding His Groove
It took a two-inning, four-strikeout appearance for Familia to hit his stride in the season. In those final 18 appearances, Familia threw 20.1 innings, had a 3.10 ERA, and batters hit just .187 against him. While his walked rate slightly decreased, he still walked 13 batters over that period. As Familia started to pitch better, he started to pitch later in the game.
Familia’s sinker location played a major part in his success, and also a little bit of luck helped too. In 2019, the average aginst it was .311, but the expected batting average was .277. Things regressed to normal in 2020 as the average against was .245 with a .276 xba. While he did not throw it as often, Familia’s fastball had an average velocity increase of almost 1.5 mph. He pitched above the strike zone with it as well to drop the average from .407 to .091.
The best part of Familia’s game was his ability to get out of jams. Hitters went 4-for-27 with runners in scoring position and 7-for-37 in late and close situations.
There are two things to be concerned with when it comes to Familia repeating his success. His 4.92 FIP was worse than it was in 2019. What saved him was his BABIP being just under 100 points lower in 2020 (.346 to .247). Familia’s walk and strikeout rates heading in opposite directions is also a cause for concern. Both were his worst numbers since his 2013 season when he only pitched in nine games.
Overall, Familia was productive with a 3.71 ERA in 25 games. As he heads into the final year of his deal, they could be cautious with how they used him early in the season. Despite the ERA being lower, other statistics show that he is in the middle of a regression. By no means that is his course for 2021, but his walk rate will be the root of any problems.
2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)
Sinker: 50 (45), Thrown 45.2% of the time, and led to his success. Can he rein in the movement is the biggest question for Familia.
Slider: 75 (75), Still tremendous pitch for Familia, great change of pace from his hard stuff.
4-Seam Fastball: 80 (70), I think it will regress since the whiff rate was under 20%, but it will still be effective.
Splitter: 70 (65), Most Familia has ever thrown it at 11.2% and shows potential for more success with a 26.1% whiff rate. Hitters also had a very tough time trying to elevate it.
Curve: 50 (N/A), Only threw one, and it looked like a slower slider that went for a bloop double.
Command: 35 (30), The track record over the last two seasons does not show it will improve.
Overall: 50 (45), Familia’s 2021 is like a coin flip. I do believe a full spring camp benefits him.