Familia has both a 92-97 mph two-seam SINKER and a 93-100 mph four-seamer that acts like a cutter down in the strike zone. He also has a very good bite on his 85-88 mph slurvy-SLIDER that hitters chase out of the strike zone. It is a swing-and-miss pitch that looks like his fastball out of his hand, but breaks late with cutter action. He also has a
He also has a 77-81 mph spread-finger SPLITTER with some action that helps keep hitters off his fastball, but rarely uses it anymore. (Spring, 2018)
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 17.5% of the time; Sinker 60.4% of the time; Slider 19.7%; and Split 2.1% of the time.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 20.9% of the time; Sinker 62.6% of the time; Slider 14.3%; and Split 2.2% of the time.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 16.6% of the time; Sinker 52.1% of the time; Slider 28.5%; and Split 2.9% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 96.7 mph, Sinker 96.4, Slider 88.1, and Split 92 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 17.6% of the time; Sinker 48.9% of the time; Slider 25.8%; and Split 7.7% of the time.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 13.7% of the time; Sinker 45.2% of the time; Slider 29.7%; Curve less than 1%; and Split 10.8% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 97.6 mph, Sinker 96.8, Slider 89.9, Curve 83.4, and Split 91.4 mph.
Jeurys will use all of his pitches when behind in the count, but uses his two-seamer to put hitters away most of the time. That sinker doesn't sink as much as it moves well on a more horizontal plane inside on righthanded batters.
He willingly pitches inside on hitters without hesitation, knocking them off the plate.
Familia has broad shoulders and a very strong arm, with a loose, whippy, compact arm action. He now stands taller in his delivery, eliminating a crouch in 2011 that used to cause his arm path to swing away from his body.
But Jeurys has a well-timed leg kick and keeps his body in sync, now. He now has better finish on his pitches. He toned down his delivery from his phrenetic motion he showed prior to 2011, and that allowed him to throw more quality strikes and generate more plane on his pitches. (Spring 2013)
Jeurys has hard-to-repeat mechanics and is slow to the plate.
He has excellent poise. He's confident, but sometimes he demands a little bit too much out of himself and he wants to be perfect.
In 2014, Familia established the franchise rookie record for holds (23) and appearances (76).
April 2015: It's Jeurys's turn to be the Mets' closer. Though Mejia could certainly wrest the job back once he recovers from his current bout with right elbow inflammation, or Parnell could grab it when he returns from Tommy John rehab, the job belongs to Familia right now. And right now means everything.
"If you're a bullpen guy and you want to be a closer and you get the opportunity, you should run with it," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We don't know when [Mejia and Parnell] are coming back. It would be nice if we knew an exact date, and that they were going to come back 100 percent healthy. But Jeurys, that's why I wanted to get him in there, was to get him some confidence that, 'Hey, look, the ninth inning's yours.'"
If ERA, strikeout rates and ground ball rates are any indication, Familia was the Mets' best reliever last summer, relying heavily on his upper-90s sinker. Though that velocity disappeared for much of Spring Training, Familia has rediscovered it in April, averaging 95.5 mph with that pitch.
"When I told him we were going to close with him, he said he was ready to take it on," Collins said. "So we'll just see how he approaches it." (A DiComo - MLB.com - April 10, 2015)
In 2015, Familia did a fabulous job in his first year as closer. He saved 43 games, had a 1.85 ERA, and helped the Mets get to the World Series.
Regarding Familia's "quick pitch," Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said in the Mets' 2016 Spring Training clubhouse, "I'm not a huge advocate of it. I've seen that Familia had quite a bit of success [with it]. But the time of the pitch in the count, the sequence of the pitch is so important—and being able to execute it."
Considering how fine a line separates proper execution from the alternative, Warthen believes quick pitches can make the difference between overall success and failure. That's why he has never taught the tactic to any of his pitchers, who instead learned it from a single source: former reliever LaTroy Hawkins.
One of the game's more cerebral pitchers in recent memory, Hawkins incorporated the quick pitch into his arsenal after then-Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson suggested it to him in 2010. The concept is simple: When pitching out of the stretch, rather than pausing at the set, relievers can "roll through" their deliveries to catch unsuspecting hitters off guard. This works best against batters with exaggerated leg kicks or similar timing mechanisms who might not be prepared to react. On rare occasions, starting pitchers use a similar tactic out of the windup. San Francisco's Johnny Cueto is a master of this, frequently abandoning the second half of his delivery to release the ball quicker.
"Essentially that's all it is, is disrupting that timing, and making them have to make a decision faster than they normally would have to," Hawkins said in a telephone interview. "The key to doing it, and the reason why you do it, is the reason why you throw changeups and curveballs and sliders—to disrupt the timing of a hitter."
With runners on base, Major League Baseball's rules define such movement as a balk. But with the bases empty, quick pitches are fair game. Yet that doesn't mean they are always a good idea. While Hawkins used it with consistent success during the latter stage of his career, Warthen worries that less experienced pitchers can rush their deliveries when trying the tactic, sacrificing command and velocity for the element of surprise. And even that element vanishes if the quick pitch is overused.
"What's funny about the quick pitch is it never gets talked about when they don't get a hit," Hawkins said. "It only gets talked about when it gets hit."
Added Familia: "I'm going to miss sometimes, yes, because I'm not perfect. But I know how to do it." (DiComo - MLB.com - 3/24/16)
June 25, 2016: Familia set a Mets' save mark. He broke a tie with Benitez by converting 25th straight saves to open the season.
July 27, 2016: Familia's save streak ended. He had converted 52 consecutive regular-season saves, third most all time, including a franchise-record 36 in a row to start the season. Then, he blew a save on July 27; and on July 28 he blew his second save in a row.
Whenever Jeurys notches a new saves milestone, Mets manager Terry Collins likes to tell the story of his ascension to the closer's role.
Jenrry Mejia, the Mets' Opening Day closer in 2015, sustained an injury in the first game and was later suspended. Needing a ninth-inning man and lacking options, Collins turned to Familia—a then-25-year-old with a power sinker but only a brief track record of success.
Few have grabbed their opportunities with as much conviction as Familia, who became the first Dominican-born reliever to save 50 games in a season, passing Jose Valverde (2011) and Francisco Cordero (2004). Closing out the Mets' 5-2 win over the Marlins, Familia extended his franchise record for saves in a season, becoming the 13th Major Leaguer to collect 50 saves.
"I go back to last year when we lost Mejia. I just turned to a kid who had good stuff and said, 'Do you think you can close?'" Collins said. "And you look up now, he's got, what? Ninety-three saves in two years? I can't tell you what a great job he's done and how much he's meant to us." (DiComo - MLB.com - 9/29/16)
Feb 10, 2020: The hardest part, Jeurys said, was cutting out rice and fried chicken—“all the good stuff.” But if Familia was to achieve his offseason goals, he knew he had no choice. So the longtime Mets reliever forced himself to diet back home in the Dominican Republic this 2019 winter, dropping from 270 pounds to 240 over the course of four months.
“In the first two weeks, it was hard,” Familia said through an interpreter. “You had a lot of temptations. It was mostly with the food. But after that, I kind of got into a routine and was able to get it done.”
The result, Familia hopes, will be a metamorphosis from the pitcher who posted a 5.70 ERA last season to the one who saved 123 games with a 2.57 ERA from 2014-2018. Mets officials have spoken often about how critical Edwin Díaz and newcomer Dellin Betances will be to their 2020 bullpen, which GM Brodie Van Wagenen hopes can go from 25th in the Majors in ERA to “one of the best in baseball.” They have talked less about Familia, whose rebound may be every bit as critical.
Familia also recruited some help, working with the Mets on both his diet and workout routine. When he reported to Mets camp earlier this month, he did not do so crowing, as many players do, that he was in the best shape of his life. He was simply happy to be back at the playing weight he pitched at for most of his career.
The effect should be twofold. Familia hopes the lost weight will allow him to stay healthier, after he twice landed on the injured list last season due to shoulder issues. He also hopes it will help him be more effective, improving his balance on the mound.
“You don’t have all that weight on top of you, so you’re able to finish better,” Familia said. “It’s also just being able to finish pitches the way you want.”
As Familia put it, “everything feels a little easier,” especially now that his diet has become routine. Only occasionally does he sneak in a cheat meal, enjoying some of the rice he’s avoided.
“Sometimes,” Familia said, laughing. (A DiComo - MLB.com - Feb 10, 2020)
March 8, 2020: Familia has taken steps to ensure he'll be a force in the 'pen this season. He dropped around 30 pounds over the winter to 240, which has helped with flexibility and, as a result, has had positive effects on the fluidity of his delivery. He also lived in New Jersey during the offseason, allowing him to stay close to the Mets' training staff.
And, perhaps most importantly, he has worked extensively with new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner to change the grip on his split-fingered pitch in an effort to give it a new look, and to differentiate it more from the sinker. In the past, there hasn't been much of a difference in velocity from one pitch to the next. Now, the splitter is slower, giving him a new look to his arsenal without necessarily having to add a brand new pitch.
"The biggest difference between my splitter and sinker was velocity, and how I throw it," Familia said. "Right now the velocity [on the splitter] is probably about 8 miles an hour less than what I usually throw it. I think it's been really good for me. Now hitters don't know what to expect, and I feel like that drop-off has helped me a lot." (A Footer - MLB.com - March 8, 2020)
As of the start of the 2021 season, Familia's career record was: 23-21 with a 3.20 ERA, having allowed 25 home runs and 366 hits in 439 innings; he had 455 strikeouts; and 124 saves out of 151 opportunities (82.1%).
- 2021 Season: Familia entered the season on a three-year streak where his strikeout rate (27.5%, 23.0%, 19.2%) and his walk rate (9.3%, 15.3%, 15.8%) were going in the wrong directions. He righted that ship in 2021, as his strikeout rate settled in at 27.5% and his walk rate finished up at 10.3%. (Matt Musico - October 11, 2021)