|(image courtesy of nytimes.com)|
When the role was given to Jeurys Familia, I must admit that I was among the first to be skeptical of the decision. For those who remember Familia from last year, while he had some good outings which did help the two things I would always remember about him were wild pitches and his inability to throw to bases, specifically first, which often times caused offense that otherwise should not have been there. But a lot of time has passed between then and now and apparently Familia has been working on toning down those problems he had last season.
On Saturday night against the Phillies I watched as Familia sealed his twelfth straight save in as many attempts. If you told me last season that I would be witnessing this right now and that it was Familia and not Mejia I might have flat out laughed in your face. But seeing is believing. Long gone seem to be the fielding problems and wild pitches that once plagued Familia. Coming out for that ninth inning he seems more focused, more determined and just ready to throw and end the game with the win for the Mets. After all that happened with Mejia, that's just what the Mets needed.
I wouldn't say that this is an all new version of Familia though. It's just a finer tuned version of him, without the problems of last season he is now finally iiving up to the great player he was hiding underneath there all along. Jeurys Familia is just a stellar example of what it means to be a part of the Mets ball club. When you get hit, you roll with the punches, keep moving and keep getting better. The Mets don't complain and say that this won't be their season anymore because of this player or that player being taken out. They change. They adapt. And if anyone has done it better than Familia they have yet to make it known.
Having a temporary solution to the problem of Jenrry Mejia being injured seemed to be an issue for the Mets at one point. After failing a drug test, it then no longer became a matter of when Mejia returned but if he would come back. Would his teammates welcome him back? Would management want him back? Regardless, he likely wouldn't have his closing role still because the Mets needed to do something in his absence. They couldn't just sit around and wait for him to return.
With Familia on his way to his best season as such a young player (Similar to that of Jacob deGrom's Rookie of the Year performance last season, only as a closer and not a starter) I do believe the Mets have found their new permanent closer. Mejia might be able to take some off nights for Familia, but this story is just proof that opportunity is always waiting just around the corner.