Mancuso: Familia No Mariano In The Postseason

Perhaps this is not a good comparison but another failure on the mound from Jeurys Familia in a postseason game certainly shows he does not have the qualities of Mariano Rivera. Wednesday night at Citi Field, a franchise record 51 saves this season meant nothing when Conor Gillaspie got hold of sinker ball in the ninth inning that went over the rightfield fence into the Mets bullpen.

That three-run homer was the difference as the Mets went home and the San Francisco Giants headed to Chicago for the best of five NL Division Series matchup.

So, make the comparisons. Familia is a big time closer during the course of a 162-game season. But it was game 163, the important one, and Familia failed again. It was last October and Familia was the recipient of three blown saves in the 2015 World Series but rebounded with a franchise record in saves this season.

Now it is time to focus on next season, and also examine if Familia is this big time closer or stopper on the mound that will get the Mets that one game or more in the postseason. Certainly, this is no Mariano Rivera on the mound, the all-time saves leader in baseball who also closed the deal with a record number of saves in October.

That sinker to Gillaspie was down the middle. The fastball may have been the better option to the Giants’ number eight hitter who was in his first postseason game of his career. Was it a bad scouting report, or just another Familia mistake? The great Mariano always had the answer in the Bronx, but Familia is out of answers.

Before the home run there was that double to left center from Brandon Crawford. Familia strikes out Angel Pagan and walks Joe Panik. Then, Gillaspie does his magic in Flushing, a relatively unknown hitter who is not known for power.

“I’ve been in this situation before,” Familia said. “I know this is a game. Every time I go out there, I try to do the best I can. After that, I can’t control what happens. I try to move forward. We didn’t make it this year. I’ll try to keep working hard to try to get there next year again.”

It seems that every Mets fan heard the same tune after the Mets came up short against the Kansas City Royals when the calendar turned to November last year.

Familia said then, his team did not make it, and the hard work would continue. So, the Dominican born pitcher with the record number of saves came up strong in what was a season of adversity for the Mets, But when it was needed and when it mattered the most, it was Familia who failed.

Stop the comparisons to Mariano Rivera because across town that was a different pitcher, with a nasty cutter in Yankees pinstripes. But manager Terry Collins said this again about Familia, “We wouldn’t be here without him.”

Though Collins may have too much confidence in his closer. Noah Syndergaard did his part and shut down the Giants, and 108 pitches after 7.0 innings apparently was enough. But, as was expected, Madison Bumgarner was relentless and in control and the Mets needed to score early and could not hndle a master of the postseason.

The bullpen would make the difference in this one, and that was expected. Except, Jeurys Familia is no Mariano Rivera closer or stopper. Nor is he a postseason threat on the mound, which also leads to building that confidence again next season.

Familia heard the cheers when he made his exit from the bullpen. He heard the boos when he left the mound and went from that hero to a goat in a matter of minutes. Mariano Rivera had a few bad moments in his illustrious career but shined when it mattered the most.

Jeurys Familia has become a bust of a postseason pitcher, and memories of Armando Benitez and all those other Mets busts out of the pen are very reminiscent.

So the Mets have a choice. Work more with Jeurys Familia or accept that this was one of those bad and rare moments for their top guy out of the pen.

Collins, when asked about the bad outings from Familia the past two years said, “In the postseason when you give up and you lose games it can really be hard on you. He was the guy I wanted out there in the ninth inning.and we’ll try to do a better job to make sure he’s a little more rested going into the postseason.”

Nice to hear the confidence from the manager is still there, and more rest may not be the solution. Familia used his best pitch, the sinker, and there is no other option to close the deal out of the Mets pen.

There is only one Mariano Rivera and hard to duplicate. However, the Mets may need to shop for another arm to supplement the workload of 90 or more saves that Familia has delivered the past two years.

If not, this same tune could be heard again if the Mets indeed reach the postseason a third straight year.

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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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