As the Mets advance to their first World Series since 2000, they can thank a large part of that success due to the emergence of Jeurys Familia as one of the best closers in the game.
Going into 2015 the backend of the Mets bullpen was influx as the suspension of Jenrry Mejia and injury to Bobby Parnell left the Mets without a clear option to close out games. But, in step Familia and he materialized into an absolutely dominant force.
In 2014 Familia proved to be an effective set up as his electric stuff made him an intriguing guy to watch if he ever became more consistent and found himself in a closing role. The main bugaboo for Familia was that he would struggle with his command and become too fastball dependent.
Now with an upper 90s fastball it is easy to fall in love with using it and he definitely isn’t afraid to challenge batters with it. But he still needed to develop another pitch that could get batters from just sitting on his fastball. The major step in his improvement this season was that he was able to introduce a sinker or splitter combo into his arsenal.
He lowered his walks by more than one in 2015 as well, but this splitter proved to be the difference maker. His fastball whiff rate leveled out at around 9% this season, but as the season progressed his sinker/splitter combo managed to warrant nearly a 30% whiff percentage and its usage rose accordingly.
He did not showcase these pitches as much in 2014, so it was clearly something he picked up this season and has absolutely ran away with it since. This parlayed itself into Familia posting a, 43 SV/1.85 ERA/86 K/9.9 SO/9, ranking him easily into the top three closers in fantasy baseball.
For me, Familia will be in consideration as my top ranked closer for a couple of reasons. The first reason has to be that his arsenal is very dynamic and overpowering, which should buoy his K numbers throughout the year. Out of his 48 save opportunities, he did blow five, with three of them coming consecutively.
Even though it was an ugly string of games, it is encouraging to see more than half of blown saves coming at one time so he was pretty consistent all season. The other reason for me being so high on him is the situation he finds himself in.
Heading into 2016 the Mets will undoubtedly have the best starting rotation in baseball. Whatever five they ultimately line up, each guy will provide Familia with a nightly chance at getting a save chance as the games should be close in score.
If we look at the top two closers in fantasy this season, Mark Melancon and Trevor Rosenthal, they shared this same type of situation. Both guys found themselves on good teams which are led by solid pitching staffs. Add the fact that starters are rarely allowed to finish out games anymore and it offers Familia with potentially 50+ save opportunities.
Normally the top closer spot has been between Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel. Unfortunately at the moment, they are both on squads that may struggle again in 2016 if their rosters do not see major overhaul. Leaving the top closer designation up for grabs and I think that Familia could very well deserve that spot.