When Jeurys Familia blows a save it is usually in spectacular fashion, and to make matters worse, it sometimes comes on days when Jacob deGrom deserves better from those around him. But the fact of the matter remains that Familia is quietly having a good season. It’s perhaps not quite as good as 2015, but the numbers are still solid for bouncing back from an injury-plagued 2017.
Considering the numbers he put up when healthy throughout his Mets career, Familia should receive a nice payday when he becomes a free agent at the end of the year. And considering the Mets’ recent aversion to handing out large contracts to relievers, this is most likely Familia’s last year in a Mets uniform.
That tendency with large contracts also means that the Mets will probably need to find their next closer from within. Both Jerry Blevins and A.J. Ramos will also be free agents at the end of the year, too. Robert Gsellman, however, has steadily risen through the ranks of the bullpen this season and could fit the role in 2019.
At the start of spring training, Gsellman was among those vying for a spot in the rotation, but towards the end of spring, it seemed he was destined for the bullpen even after a spot in the rotation opened up when Jason Vargas went on the disabled list. When the season began, Seth Lugo was named a starter and Gsellman headed to the bullpen and flourished in his new role.
Early on in the season his stuff looked downright nasty. On Opening Day, he announced his arrival in the pen with a very impressive performance when he struck out the side on fourteen pitches. He continued that success through April and his performance could be attributed to throwing harder out of the pen and relying more on his sinker which had been quite a weapon for him in the past. In May, he moved away from the sinker a bit and incorporated more sliders into his repertoire. This month, he has not been as dominant as he was early on, but most of the damage came in one game against the Braves when deGrom left the game early with an injury.
Perhaps the bullpen was always the righty’s destiny. His major league debut came in a relief appearance when Jon Niese was injured in the first inning of a start in 2016, and so far this season, he is putting up good numbers coming out of the pen. Gsellman has a 3.48 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. He also has 31 strikeouts in 33.2 innings and looked very impressive when he picked up the first save of his career against the Diamondbacks. After getting the last two outs in the eighth inning, he struck out the side in the ninth to easily finish that game.
The fact that he has earned his manager’s trust to be used in a save situation should come as no surprise. Gsellman had been seeing time in the eighth as the setup man, and he has been one of the Mets’ most consistent relievers. He also gives his manager flexibility, as he can pitch multiple innings. Considering the bullpen revolution that has been happening around Major League Baseball, that is a good quality to have. For his part, Gsellman has embraced his new role and his manager has taken notice.
Jeurys Familia was never supposed to be a closer. That title belonged to Jenrry Mejia and Bobby Parnell, yet when he was given the role, he never looked back. Perhaps the Mets can catch lightning in a bottle yet again with an unlikely closer in the role next season.