From purely a saves standpoint, Jeurys Familia had the best season of his career in 2016. The Dominican right-handed saved 51 games to put himself in the conversation as one of the best relief pitchers in major league baseball. Just like the wins stat, though, saves don’t tell the whole story. In fact, they don’t tell most of the story.
One look at Familia’s 1.21 WHIP and 3.59 walks per nine innings will tell you that the closer wasn’t as effective as he was in 2015, when he allowed nine fewer runs but saved eight fewer games. At 27 years old, Familia is still a decent candidate for a contract extension, but him staying with the Mets long-term isn’t as obvious a move as it seemed to be a year ago.
That’s because of stretches like the one he had in late May, when he allowed six runs over two appearances against the Dodgers to blow a save in one game and allow the winning runs to score in another. Two months later, Familia blew back-to-back games against St. Louis and Colorado while suffering the loss in both contests.
Even in the many games that Familia was able to successfully finish, walks often reared their ugly head and made the experience less than optimal for Mets fans. He walked 9.7 percent of batters faced in 2016 compared to just 6.2 percent the year before.
All that’s not to say that Familia had a bad year, though. He’s just not as good as that saves total would indicate. And a lot of closers still get paid according to saves these days. There’s still a lot to like from Familia’s 2016, especially his elite 63-percent ground ball rate and one regular season home run allowed. That other home run he let up was a little hard to swallow, but it’s tough to dislike a relief pitcher that’s so good at keeping the ball in the yard.
On the other hand, Familia will be a lot easier to dislike in 2017 due his domestic violence arrest from a month ago. That could lead to a suspension and an opportunity for Addison Reed to take over the ninth-inning role. If Familia does return to action for the Mets next year, fans should look for him to control his sinker better while continuing to get those worm-burners we all love.