Jeurys Familia Is the Best Closer in the Game
On Opening Day 2015, Jenrry Mejia was unavailable due to an elbow injury. As a result, Terry Collins turned to Buddy Carlyle to close out the Mets 3-1 victory. Between Mejia’s elbow injury and his successive steroid suspensions, the Mets would need to turn to Jeurys Familia to become their closer. Familia wouldn’t get a chance to earn a save for about another week. In that April 12, 2015 game, Familia recorded two outs to earn his first save of the season. It would set him on a path where he has become the best closer in the game.
Since 2015, Familia has pitched 118.1 innings in 117 appearances. In those appearances, he has a 2.13 ERA, 1.073 WHIP, 183 ERA+, and 72 saves. His 72 saves are second only to Mark Melancon in that time frame. However, unlike Melancon, Familia is more than a three out closer. Familia leads all closers in appearances, innings pitched, and multiple inning saves. Familia has done whatever his team has asked of him to help his team win. These are all part of what makes Familia a great closer. However, what is often overlooked is his durability. It’s his durability that truly makes him great.
We recently saw how important durability is with Wade Davis. Davis was as dominant a closer as there was in baseball. Mets fans need not look any further than the World Series for evidence of that. In the same time frame that Familia has been the Mets closer, Davis has had a 1.02 ERA and a 421 ERA+. That ERA+ is more than double that of Mariano Rivera‘s career mark of 205, which also happens to be the best in major league history. By any measure, Davis could be anointed the best closer in the game. However, he’s not in the conversation right now as he’s currently on the disabled list with a right forearm strain. As Mets fans have seen with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, a forearm strain in your pitching arm can be an ominous sign.
As we see all the time in sports, one the most important abilities a player must have is availability. Familia has been available more than any other closer in the game, and he has pitched just as well if not better than all of them. This year he was finally recognized as such when he was named to his first All Star team. Given his durability and his ability to close out games, it will be the first of many.