Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Most Mets fans groaned before Tuesday night's game when manager Mickey Callaway said Jeurys Familia could be relied on for a two-inning save because Edwin Diaz (who had pitched three games in a row) was unavailable.
But then Familia entered the game in the eighth inning with the Mets leading by a run and looked as nasty as he has in quite some time -- firing sinkers with great depth while his slider dropped off the table.
After a long time in the dugout between innings as the Mets rallied for an insurance run, Familia looked similarly nasty to open the ninth inning as he struck out the first two batters and had the Mets one out away from victory while holding a 3-1 lead. Then the roof caved in.
Here's how things went for Familia after there were two outs and nobody on:
- Four-pitch walk to Jesse Winker
- Line drive single by Jose Iglesias
- Flared single just over Pete Alonso's glove by Kyle Farmer to drive in a run
- Ground ball single up the middle by Jose Peraza to tie the game
The biggest issue with Familia's ninth inning was the walk to Winker. It wasn't only a four-pitch walk to a batter who couldn't tie the game with one swing -- it was the fact that none of the pitches were particularly close.
After the hard-hit single by Iglesias, Familia was dinked and dunked on the two run-scoring hits, but he was still unable to miss bats at the rate he had done earlier during his appearance.
Still, with some calling for the Mets to turn away from Familia in high-leverage spots for now (Callaway says they won't), the advanced numbers suggest that if he can fix one thing, everything else will fall into place. That one thing? The walks.
Familia has walked a ridiculous 13(!) batters in 14.1 innings (14 appearances) this season. He has always been slightly wild, but his career walk rate of 3.8 per 9 is similar to many other high-end relievers, such as Adam Ottavino (3.9).
And about those aforementioned advanced stats that tell a better story...
- Familia's expected slugging percentage against is one of the best in the league
- Familia is inducing lower exit velocity than the league average
- The expected batting average against Familia is better than the league average
- The hard hit rate against Familia this season is around league average
Along with the above numbers is the fact that the stuff is still there for Familia, as evidenced by the nasty sinkers and sliders he threw on Tuesday night and his 9.42 K/9 rate, which happens to be identical to his career rate.
So again, it seemingly all pretty much comes back to Familia's control, which he absolutely has to get a handle on. Once he does that, he should be just fine.
The problem for the Mets right now is that with the Edwin Diaz Rules in effect, Justin Wilson still out, and Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman already being heavily used, it seems that Familia will be working things out while continuing to pitch in high-leverage situations.
Familia shutting the opposition down in a high-leverage spot worked for five of the necessary six outs on Tuesday night, which is arguably more important than what the outcome was. Now, it's time for him to limit the walks and start to close the door.