|Call me crazy but I think RHP Jeurys Familia offers the Mets the best closing option in 2015.|
Whether it be advanced projections, analyst rankings or expert opinion, the consensus on the Mets bullpen is the same: It has potential but it is young, lacks depth, and comes with risk. Little focus seems to be on the upside of the group. While I agree that a lot rides on a group of guys in their mid-20s (Edgin and Mejia as well) who could flame out, get hurt, or never reach their potential, we are also talking about four guys who also had varying degrees of success last year. I'm not sure people realize how rare that is in today's game to have four (five if Montero joins them) talented late inning-caliber relievers with mid-90s velocity. While their success manifested itself in different ways for each pitcher last year, the potential should not be ignored. As far as the depth criticism goes, those critics must be ignoring the good possibility of Rafael Montero and/or Dillon Gee getting bullpen time as well--along with the potential of a prospect starter in a relief role later in the year.
But let's get back to Familia and Black. While Parnell and Mejia are well known around baseball because of their closing ability and success, Familia and Black are seen as the maligned late-inning righties with big arms but exploitable weaknesses.
But what about their strengths?
Both have fastballs well north of 95 MPH on average. Both offer a breaking pitch that was very successful in 2014 (Familia's slider and Black's curve) and the two of them have barely over 150 innings of major league experience between them. It's not outlandish to suggest they can still get better. Potentially much better. Both have multi-inning capacity (though with the stable of arms the Mets have, it might not be necessary) and miss a lot of bats. Despite Black's wildness and Familia's struggles against lefties in 2014, both are pitchers who can come into tight spots and get big outs via the strikeout.
Familia and Black both have the sort of arm strength you want in a closer, and the Mets probably will not use either in that role given the presence of Parnell and Mejia. That, to me, says the bullpen of the 2015 Mets should be very strong and in no small part to the presence of high-octane, potential lockdown set up men like Black and Familia.
I found myself struggling to put together much over 500 words for this post and, after trying a few different paragraphs including other analytics, I realized it would be superfluous because the concept is simple: Familia and Black have very good arms and can (maybe even should) be two of the better NL relievers out there. While they might get lost behind the stomping of Mejia and the return of our bearded closer, they should not be overlooked. Both will be integral parts to preserving leads and keeping games close in 2015.