There are many questions surrounding the New York Mets pitching staff. Paramount among them is the health of the starting rotation. Another valid concern: What will Jeurys Familia’s role be in 2017? The 27-year-old enjoyed a career year in 2016, setting a franchise-record with 51 saves in 78 appearances. He struck out 84 batters in 77 2/3 innings pitched and surrendered just one home run.
Familia’s success became overshadowed by an Oct. 31 arrest on domestic violence charges. A New Jersey prosecutor later dismissed the charges. Despite that, Familia will likely face a lengthy suspension under MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy.
Nonetheless, Familia reported to Port St. Lucie on Tuesday and expressed optimism for 2017. He refused to answer questions regarding any possible suspension from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
“I’d really like to focus on baseball-related questions,” Familia told reporters. “My lawyers’ advice is to really not talk about my case.”
“I’m very happy about this upcoming season,” he continued. “I think it’s a very meaningful one for us, just because we’ve now had two previous seasons where we’ve made it pretty far.”
Addison Reed will fill the vacancy at closer as Familia awaits his punishment. Familia might miss 30 or more games this season but will still pitch for the Dominican Republic at the World Baseball Classic in March.
MLB Network recently ranked Familia as the ninth-best reliever in MLB. He placed one spot ahead of New York Yankees reliever Dellin Betances. In fact, Betances is the only pitcher to throw more innings than Familia over the past three seasons, according to Anthony DiComo at MLB.com.
No matter what happens with Familia, manager Terry Collins placed his vote of confidence in the closer.
“We’re all pulling for him certainly to be able to get through this mentally, and continue to be the pitcher we think that he has been the last couple of years,” he told DiComo.
“It’s a good thing that I’ve closed in the past,” Reed told Marc Carig at Newsday. “Whether I’m closing at all this year or throwing the eighth or the seventh inning, it doesn’t matter to me. Having closing experience will definitely help.”
Jesse Andreozzi is a staff writer at Outside Pitch Sports Network covering the New York Mets. Follow him on Twitter @Jesse_Andreozzi