New York Mets’ Jenrry Mejía had a good thing going…until he got caught up in PEDs. Luckily for the Mets, they had a replacement in-house.
Three strikes and you’re out.
Mejia’s troubles all began last April when he was suspended 80 games after testing positive for Stanozolol and Boldenone. He came back in July, and was suspended, yet again, after testing positive for, that’s right, the same banned substances.
Prior to his first suspension, Mejia was the Mets closer following an impressive 2014 season which saw him compile 28 saves, and an ERA of 3.65 in 56 games. The future looked potentially bright for the 25-year-old, and it looked like he could secure a spot in the Mets’ bullpen for the long-haul.
However once the first suspension came for Mejia, and the Mets, setup-man Jeurys Familia took over as the closer, becoming one of the more dominant closers in the game (43 saves, 1.85 ERA) as the Mets went all the way to the World Series in 2015.
Familia’s 43 saves tied the Mets record held by Armando Benitez in 2001. He didn’t blow a save all season after July 30.
The dominance by Familia would stretch into the postseason, as he saved all five of his chances through the NLDS and NLCS. Familia was perfect in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, nailing down the final six outs to clinch the save and the series for the Mets.
Familia’s success came undone in the World Series as he would blow three saves. However other than Game 1—he gave up the tying home run to Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon—his blown saves in Game 4 and 5 were done, at least in part, by key defensive miscues.
Mets manager Terry Collins made the mistake of leaving starter Matt Harvey in a batter too long during Game 5 of that World Series. Familia would enter the game with the tying run on second, no outs, and allowed the run to score without even giving up a hit.
Overall for the playoffs, Familia had a 0.61 ERA, giving up only one earned run; the Game 1 home run to Gordon.
It was definitely a dominant first season for Familia as closer for the Mets.
My thought is, ironically, we wouldn’t have seen this type of season, at least not if Mejia had not been suspended. Assuming Mejia is healthy and effective, we most likely never see the dominance from Familia in 2015.
Mejia was solid as closer for the Mets in 2014, but not to the degree that Familia was in 2015. Both pitchers throw hard, mid-to-upper 90s, but Familia has more secondary pitches, including the nasty split-fingered fastball that reaches the upper 90s. A pitch he developed mid-season. When that splitter is on, Familia is un-hittable, and we saw that a lot in the second half of 2015.
It’s an interesting dynamic, as Familia played a pivotal role in the Mets success; their National League Division title and NL Pennant.
It’s almost as if Mejia’s suspension was a blessing in disguise. It opened the door for Familia’s opportunity as closer, and it looks like he could hold the role for a long time.
Although you never want to see players like Mejia get caught up in drugs and PED-offenses, the Mets clearly have to like what they have with Familia.
In the end, Mejia’s troubles ultimately unearthed a hidden gem in Familia. The journey was unpredictable and improbable, but after 2015, the rest is history. Maybe Familia becomes the next iconic figure in the Mets bullpen.
Maybe even becomes the best in Mets’ franchise history?