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Jeurys Familia goes into 2018 looking to regain old form

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Heading into the 2018 season, a healthy Familia seeks to reclaim his position as one of the better relievers in the game.

MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Entering the 2018 season, Jeurys Familia finds himself in an unfamiliar position, without a defined role as New York Mets’ closer. Between 2015 and 2016, Familia etched his name on the list of the better closers in baseball, totaling 94 saves, 9.8 K/9, and a 2.7 bWAR in 2015 and 2.0 in 2016. During this stretch, Familia earned his first All-Star appearance during the 2016 season.

Last year, however, proved to be a very different season for him after serving a 15-game suspension for violating the league’s domestic violence policy and requiring a surgery in May to fix an arterial blood clot in his right shoulder. In total, he only appeared in 26 games in 2017 and struggled to return to the high standard he had set for himself in previous seasons.

With the Mets acquiring AJ Ramos via trade, the signing of Anthony Swarzak in the offseason, and Jerry Blevins returning for his fourth season with the team, the Mets find themselves with several high quality relievers with the potential to close out games. Earlier this offseason, it was mentioned that the closer role may not be assigned to one reliever, rather it could be a mix-and-match closer by committee situation. This bullpen philosophy would be a major shift from recent seasons, but Familia has bought into Mickey Callaway’s vision for the team and seems focused and ready to do whatever it takes to help the team win ballgames. As reported by Kevin Kernan of the New York Post, when asked about his potentially undefined role Familia said, “It doesn’t matter to me. I’m just trying to win the game.”

Familia, who is eligible to be a free agent this upcoming winter, is set to make $7.925 million this year. This season will be of crucial importance for Familia as he seeks to regain his old form while solidifying the back end of the bullpen for the Mets. Two of the major projection systems don’t quite see him getting there. PECOTA projects a 3.40 ERA in 60 innings, while Steamer projects a 3.56 ERA in 65.0 innings, neither of which are terrible but both of which wouldn’t match his level of performance from 2014 through 2016.

If he is able to prove this season that he is still an elite bullpen option by pounding the strike zone, forcing weak contact and staying healthy throughout the season, the Mets should look into the possibility of keeping him in the organization beyond this year.