Mancuso: Familia Has Become The Postseason Option

(Bill Menzel/Sportsday)

The arm of Matt Harvey and the home run ball went to work for the New York Mets Saturday night in their 4-2 win over the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field in Game 1 of the NLCS. And for manager Terry Collins the formula to secure this win went again to the closer Jeurys Familia.

Pardon the pun, but the name Familia has become familiar, and for the Mets in their postseason run it has been getting the ball to the closer. More so his third save of the postseason brings up questions as to how often the righthander can come in and get a four out save.

Or will Collins opt for another six out save? Familia pitched 2.0 perfect innings Thursday night in the Mets 3-2, Game 5 NLDS win against the Dodgers. It has become a formula for success and his save Saturday night was was the second in a row for Familiar of greater than 1.0 innings in October.

Confidence of the starters that the Mets throw in these championship rounds is one thing. The bullpen, a disaster at times seems to be coming down to one arm, but if the starter goes deep,as Harvey did again, all Collins and the Mets need is that one option.

That option now, at a time when the Mets are inching closer to their first National League pennant since 2006, seems to be the arm of Jeurys Familia. Though Collins is not quick to jump the gun and say that Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard are not dependable, though every Mets fan anticipates that familiar arm to come out of that bullpen gate and get the save,

“I’m not trying to,” Collins said, about Familia getting the ball in the late innings. “It’s just we’ve got pretty good starting pitching and if they can get deep into the game- you’ve got again what I think is one of the best closers in baseball. If you can get your starters to get you eight and turn the ball over to him, I like your chances.”

And the chances seem to be better when the Mets have that slim lead in the late innings, and the groove Familia is in right now increases the chances that Collins will not hesitate to use his reliable closer.

However, there is that risk of running the gauntlet and that Familia could start to show some signs of being tired. It hasn’t showed during this postseason run, though in the ninth inning, and with the Mets holding a 4-2 lead, Familia went behind the count a few times.

He struck out Jorge Soler with a 96 slider for the second out in the ninth.

But Miguel Montero followed and went after a slider for a two out single to keep the Cubs in business. It was the first hit that Familia gave up this postseason and opposing hitters are 1-for-21 against him. During this stretch of success he has been able to throw a minimum amount of pitches and that has helped with his ability to go the extra route.

But Collins could give his closer some needed rest Sunday night in Game 2. It is a matter of how many innings he gets from Noah Syndergaard, and of course how many runs the Mets have, to preserve a lead in the late innings.

“But believe me, I like the guys that are setting up,” Collins said. The manager will never lose confidence with his entire roster, more so with the arms available out of the bullpen that could give Familia a night off. There is that travel day Monday before the series moves to Chicago for Game 3 on Tuesday, but the Cubs do have difficulty hitting the fastball, sinker, and the slider that have made Familia a premiere stopper in the game.

Collins would not give a definite as to the availability of Familia Sunday night. He said there is that option of going to Clippard for the save and Reed setting it up. He hopes that Syndergaard will go deep and make a decision when the time comes.

The issue again for Familia, if indeed he becomes the newest Mariano Rivera of postseason success, is how long will this throwing scoreless ball continue? Familia wants the ball, and like a hitter in a good groove he has not lost the strike zone and right now the 25-year old native of Santo Domingo seems invincible. .

“Like I said always, every time I have the opportunity I drop my stuff and believe in my slider, sinker and throw strikes,” he said. “I’m ready for every decision he (Collins) makes when I get the opportunity to go out there.”

Familia said again his arm is good. There are no lingering doubts that he has become the closer, and more importantly is that major option for the manager as the series continues Sunday night at Citi Field.

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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