In nine games since his return from the disabled list, New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia has not figured it out.
When the news broke earlier this season that Jeurys Familia had a blood clot in his throwing shoulder, his season was presumed to be in doubt. So when Familia eventually made his return in late August, it was with open arms from a beleaguered New York Mets bullpen.
In his career, Familia has tended to walk a tightrope in save situations, but he is still one of three Mets closers to eclipse 40 saves in a single season. He was also the unquestioned closer on two playoff teams, which made it all the more exciting to see him back on the mound in 2017.
Sure, the season had already been long lost but this was a team that was planning to contend in 2018, and there would be no hope of doing just that without its All-Star closer manning the ninth inning. Unfortunately, the early returns from Familia have been uninspiring at best.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 11, 2017
With only a few weeks left in the 2017 season, Jeurys is running out of time. When he went down with an injury in May, Familia owned a 3.86 era. Now, just nine appearances later, his era has inflated to 5.12.
His WHIP has followed suit, reaching the 1.60 mark in his last outing on Sept. 16. The two culprits of his failure are no surprise, command and velocity.
In nearly half of his appearances since returning (four of nine), Familia has thrown 23 or more pitches. Familia has surrendered all six of his walks in those four outings. The inconsistency Familia has shown is troublesome.
And his command is not the only thing he has failed to repeat. In 2017, Familia’s sinker has dropped 1.3 mph in average velocity. His slider has seen a steeper decline, falling 3.0 mph.
There is an obvious case to be made that Familia had a severe surgery on his shoulder, and it will require more than nine games to rehab back to All-Star form. That is an extremely valid argument and one the Mets likely believe.
However, if the Mets plan to be legitimate contenders in 2018 they cannot enter the season with a closer who has allowed six runs in his last nine appearances. This makes an interesting case for the amount of panic this situation should require.
General Manager Sandy Alderson obviously felt the need to bolster the late innings with the acquisition of AJ Ramos at the trade deadline. Ramos had 20 saves on the Marlins prior to his move to Queens but has been underwhelming in a Mets uniform so far.
For this reason, the Mets need to be concerned with Familia’s form. If he cannot regather any semblance of his dominant form, the team may have to add finding a top of the line closer to their free agency hit list.
So yes, right now it is time to hit the panic button on Jeurys Familia.