New York Mets: Jeurys Familia is happy with his improved splitter

New York Mets, Jeurys Familia

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.”

New York Mets: Matz Shines, Betances Struggles in 5-0 Loss

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The theme for the New York Mets throughout Spring Training has been great starting pitching and a dreadful offensive output. The trend remained the same for Steven Matz and the rest of the Mets as they lost to the Washington Nationals, 5-0.

Matz had everything working and pitched three perfect innings with three strikeouts. Out of the trio including Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha, Matz has undoubtedly been the best. The outing dropped his Spring ERA to a sparkling 1.50.

Betances, Familia Struggle

Dellin Betances made his long-awaited Mets debut. Still recovering from his Achilles injury, he only recorded one out in his appearance. He allowed two walks, struck out one and gave up a two-RBI single to Ryan Zimmerman. To go along with the bad outing he also allowed two stolen bases and uncorked a wild pitch. Betances’s velocity was way down but the one bright spot is Betances having no issues with the Achillies.

Jeurys Familia did not fair as bad as Betances. He made it through his one inning of work but allowed four hits including a home run. Familia did strike out two and his ERA only increased to 2.25 for the Spring.

Nimmo Hot, Cano Cold

Brandon Nimmo continues to make a case to be the Mets leadoff hitter. His 2-for-3 outing brought his average to .435 on the Spring. Out of the nine games Nimmo has played he has only gone hitless in two. Robinson Cano is still searching for a fraction of the success Nimmo has. His 0-for-3 dropped him to .091, but only in 11 at-bats so far. An interesting stat for Cano is that in 15 Spring Trainings, he has only hit below .300, three times.

The shutout put the Mets back as the lowest-scoring offense in Spring Training. On Sunday, they face the reigning Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros. The Mets will counter with Noah Syndergaard on the mound.

New York Mets: McNeil Stays Red Hot in Loss to Marlins

Tuesday’s matchup between the New York Mets and Miami Marlins featured Noah Syndergaard‘s second Spring start. It was not as dominant as his first, and the three early runs he allowed were too much for the Mets to make up.

In the first inning, Syndergaard retired the first two with ease before allowing a homer to Garrett Cooper. The second inning also led to some two-out magic for the Marlins. A hit by pitch and fielder’s choice moved Harold Ramirez to second base, and Chad Wallach knocked him for the Marlins second run. An ill-advised throw from Amed Rosario on a fielder’s choice allowed Lewis Brinson to score for the third run.

Syndergaard put together a 1-2-3 third inning to complete his outing on a high note. Overall, he threw three innings, allowed three runs (two earned), two hits while striking out five. One of the positives for Syndergaard is the five strikeouts to zero walks he produced.

McNeil Carries the Offense

The Mets have been dead last in runs through the early part of Spring Training, but none of that is Jeff McNeil‘s fault. The All-Star supplied two hits, including a leadoff home run. He is hitting .533, the highest mark in Spring Training. Andres Gimenez also continued to stay hot by supplying a double off the bench to move his average to .333 with a 1.010 OPS.

Brandon Nimmo is quietly hitting .357 after his 1-for-3 game today, but the rest of the lineup is in the dust. Robinson Cano is hitting .200, Pete Alonso is hitting .143, with a .333 OPS, and Amed Rosario still has not recorded an out yet. Thankfully there are multiple weeks left in Spring Training, so the pressure to right themselves is not high yet.

Bullpen Work

Robert Gsellman threw two innings, allowing one run after Syndergaard left. Jeurys Familia followed up with one strikeout over his inning of work. He still has not allowed a run in the Spring. Brad Brach and Paul Sewald also pitched scoreless innings. Despite allowing two runs, Adonis Uceta, struck out three batters in the ninth.

Marcus Stroman faces the St. Louis Cardinals once again for his third Spring start. He should be the first Met to get to the four-inning plateau in Spring Training.

 

New York Mets Bullpen Solid in Tie Against Cardinals

On day two of Spring Training, the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals finished in a 3-3 tie. Jake Marisnick‘s solo home run, Ryan Cordell‘s double and a J.D. Davis sacrifice fly accounted for the three Mets runs.

Like most early Spring Training games, the big league ready arms threw the first half of the game. Steven Matz threw the first inning for the Mets and allowed a leadoff home run to Harrison Bader. Matz settled in to retire the following three batters and struck out one. His much-improved charge-up looked good during his one inning of work.

Bullpen Dominance

The slimmed-down Jeurys Familia took over after Matz in the second inning. He worked around a couple of baserunners to pitch a scoreless second. Familia is back to throwing his sinker, slider, and splitter full time and featured each of them during his inning. He threw a couple of sinkers in the high 90s but mostly worked in the 93-95 range.

Brad Brach took over for the third and allowed a couple of baserunners but also struck out two. He was throwing in the high 80s, but his change-up looked in midseason form. The double Brach allowed mostly had to do with Tim Tebow playing left field. It was a tough play, but most Mets outfielders make the play.

Robert Gsellman put together a quick but eventful inning. It started with an Andres Gimenez error, followed by possible double play turned into a fielders choice, and the final batter flew out into a double play on a failed hit & run. Tyler Bashlor‘s one inning of work featured a strikeout, and his curveball was his best pitch with his velocity sitting at 93-95.

Minor league relievers finished off the rest of the game with Franklyn Kilome as the only one to allow runs. He allowed a line drive two-run homer to Edmundo Sosa, which tied the game. Velocities from most pitchers on both sides seemed lower than usual. It either had to do with pitchers still getting themselves game-ready along with the radar gun reading not playing as key a role it does in the regular season.

It was a solid day for the key Mets relievers, which will be something to build on as the first full week of games starts. We still have not seen Edwin Diaz pitch, and his Spring debut will be the most anticipated of Spring Training.

Three Current New York Mets Who Will Make Their Hall of Fame

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

With the New York Mets announcing their 2020 Hall of Fame class, there are a few candidates who could see their way into the Mets Hall of Fame once their careers end. They will likely join a group which features Tom Seaver, John Franco, and Mike Piazza.

Jacob deGrom

Jacob deGrom has made himself a lock for the Mets Hall of Fame but will need a few more great years to put himself in Baseball’s Hall. deGrom is coming off back-to-back Cy Young award seasons and has a 2.62 ERA over his six big league seasons. He also has three All-Star selections, two top-10 MVP finishes, and a Rookie of the Year award to his name. deGrom’s statistical achievements include an ERA title, strikeout title and a share of the record for the most strikeouts to start a game.

Jeurys Familia

Jeurys Familia’s march to the Mets Hall of Fame is back on an uphill climb. Two of his last three seasons with the Mets have been sub-par and needs a good 2020 to get his case back on track. Familia has 123 saves with the Mets, 51 of them coming in his Mets record-setting season of 2016. The narrow-minded Mets fan will remember him for his two home runs against Alex Gordon and Conor Gillaspie. His legacy with the Mets features an All-Star selection, five postseason saves, and a 2.16 postseason ERA.

Pete Alonso

Pete Alonso could not have created a better beginning to his Mets career. His 53 home run season set the Mets rookie, franchise, and MLB rookie home run record. Alonso earned an All-Star selection and won the home run derby. It will be hard to repeat a 50 homer season, but there is no reason to think he cannot put up consistent 40+ home run seasons. He is the leader the Mets have searched for since David Wright’s career dwindled and is a fan favorite, just like the former captain.

New York Mets: Jeurys Familia Year in Review

Jeurys Familia was a former All-Star closer for the New York Mets, who the Mets brought in to bolster their bullpen. He returned as a setup man for Edwin Diaz, but the plan did not work out very well. Familia struggled mightily in his Mets return and was stuck in a funk all season.

Familia was dominant through his first four scoreless outings. He hit a wall against the Nationals, and it was all downhill from there. Familia allowed 11 runs in his next ten outings and walked an astounding 11 batters as well. Following his rough stretch, Familia would land on the Injured List in May with a shoulder injury.

Control Issues

Familia pitched decent during his nine outings in May, only allowing four runs and walking three batters. All of those outings came in the second half of May, and in June, it was evident that his shoulder still had issues. During six outings in June, he gave up more runs (11) than batters retired (8) and walked four batters. He ended up returning to the IL with the same injury.

When Familia returned in July, the Mets used him very sparingly. Five of his nine July outings were for one out or less, and it was evident there was very little confidence in him. He allowed three runs in those outings, but still had control issues walking six batters.

Finding His Way Towards the End

Thought the last two months, Familia saw plenty of action pitching in 28 games. Most were in middle relief, instead of high leverage situations, and threw a lot better. The control issues were not as prominent, but he had a 3.67 ERA, and opposing hitters were only hitting .235 against Familia. It gave the Mets hope he will return to All-Star form in 2020.

Familia’s most significant issue was harnessing the power of his sinker. It would move so much that Familia could not control it, which led him to fix his mechanics to get a better handle of his best pitch. His slider had gone flat at some points during the year, but during the last two months, it was moving the same way it used to. Familia has moved away from his splitter, which used to be a money pitch for him. He is in a love/hate relationship with it, but it is good to have a third pitch he can use.

Familia will be coming into Spring Training in excellent shape as reports state he has lost almost 20 pounds in the offseason. Much like Edwin Diaz, Familia did not have a year that correlates with his entire career. Before 2019, he only had one season where his ERA was above 3.50. He should have a good, bounce-back year in 2020.

Grades:

Pitching Repertoire: B+, His sinker has devastating movement and slider is a solid secondary pitch. It would be nice to see him revive his splitter.

Control: F, 6.3 BB/9 is horrible, especially for someone pitching the crucial innings Familia had. He has never been a control artist, but it is a scary jump from 3.5 last season.

Composure: C+, Still held his own in big moments, but the control issues were killer.

Intangibles: B+

Overall: D, If Edwin Diaz did not exist, this would be an F, but it is hard to say which one was worse.

New York Mets: Mickey Callaway Shows His Lack of Knowledge Again

New York Mets, Mets

The Mets suffered a grueling 2-1 loss in 14 innings against the Braves after a dominant start from Jacob deGrom. They had plenty of chances to win the game but failed to get a clutch hit. Those type of games will happen in a long season, but the horrible decision making of Mickey Callaway is inexcusable in late August.

Deciding to Pitch to a Hitter Instead of a Pitcher

The decision to bring in Jeurys Familia for a third straight day over Chris Flexen is a reasonable one. Flexen has been dreadful at the big league level and Familia could not do worse than him. He struggled with his control but still found his way out of the inning with only one run allowed, which could have been prevented if Callaway had an idea of how to manage a game.

It was a great move to challenge Adeiny Hechavarria’s RBI triple, which ended up taking away the Braves run. With second and third with none out, the Mets had to pitch to the seven hitter Rafael Ortega. Familia did a terrific job of striking him out to get to Billy Hamilton with the pitcher on deck since the Braves were out of bench players.

Why Even Mess With Hamilton?

It would be a no doubt intentional walk situation to load the bases for the pitcher. The middle infielders can attempt to turn two up the middle and the corners can come home for the force, if Max Fried did not strikeout. Callaway decided to pitch to Hamilton with a drawn in infield. His whole career is based around him slashing ground balls and he did exactly that to give them the lead.

The only possible reason to pitch to Hamilton was the hope they could get him and Fried out to avoid facing Ronald Acuna Jr., but that is an unwarranted aggressive move. If the play backfires like it did, now you more than likely will give Acuna a chance to widen the Braves lead. Thankfully they got Acuna out, but anyone would much rather face Acuna with the bases loaded and two outs.

Mickey Will Be Gone Next Season

It is unbelievable that someone with the lack of knowledge that Callaway has, is allowed to manage a Major League Baseball team. He has shown countless times that he is a fool and does not have a grasp of how to manage. Callaway covers up his stupidity with his positive speeches after games to avoid giving a real answer. Thankfully, no matter how successful the Mets are this season Mickey Callaway will be out of a job one the season ends. Unfortunately he will be the only thing that can stop the Mets from a wild card birth.

New York Mets: The Resurgence of Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia

New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard

Earlier this season Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia headlined a group of underachieving Mets which led to their horrible first half of the year. During the Mets huge turn around, they have been at the forefront of their new found success.

Before the rain caused an early ending, Syndergaard was dealing Thursday night. He retired the first 16 batters against him before Tyler Naquin blooped a single out of the reach of Juan Lagares. In total Syndergaard went six innings, allowed two hits and struck out five on just 73 pitches. He has a 1.82 ERA with 55 strikeouts in 54.1 innings pitched during the second half. Syndergaard’s ERA on May 7 was 5.14 and has lowered it down to 3.71.

Familia Time?

Prior to 2019, Jeurys Familia was one of the most consistent relievers in all of baseball. It earned him the three year deal in the offseason and he was counted on to set up Edwin Diaz along with Seth Lugo. Familia was dreadful in the first half of the season, he had a 7.50 ERA and 22 walks in 30 innings. The Mets even avoided using him in any important situation through the end of the first half.

Familia has returned to his All-Star form with a 1.64 ERA in the second half and is quickly becoming a dependable option in the Mets bullpen. Mets fans tend to think of home runs from Alex Gordon and Conor Gillaspie when it come to Familia which forces them to forget about how dominant he was. Without Familia, their magical 2015 run does not happen and now it does not seem like this year’s run will be possible without him.

The way Mickey Callaway is using his bullpen now, it seems like he is trying to avoid using Edwin Diaz. He would prefer to have Familia throw the eighth and Lugo throw the ninth. Friday night’s game again the Braves will be a huge test for the bullpen, assuming deGrom goes deep into the game. Familia likely will not pitch three days in a row which could force Callaway’s hand to throw Diaz in the ninth if the Mets have a lead. If the Mets can get Diaz right, they can finally have a legitimate trio in their bullpen.