Mejia, Familia have been even better than you may realize

Brian P. Mangan

Everyone in baseball knows that Mets relievers Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia have been dominant for over a month now, and that the two of them are a very big reason why the Mets have refused to go away quietly thus far in this second half. What you might not know, is exactly how good they’ve been.

They’re not just lights-out — and fun to watch — but if they continue on this run of domination, Mejia and Familia may end up being the Mets’ most dominant end game in over a decade.

So, how good have the boys been?

mejia stat

Mejia has been good since he moved to the bullpen, but since June 10th, after about a month of transition to the closer role, he’s taken things to another level. Over the last month, Mejia has been right there with Jordan Walden, Trevor Rosenthal and other highly-regarded arms as one of the NL’s premier relievers. In fact, Mejia’s FIP over the last 30 days is 9th among NL relievers. (The June 10 segment begins after back-to-back outings where Mejia allowed two runs each … but even if you were to include those outings, his ERA would still only be 2.75). His K/9 of 11.08 over that period is matched by only a handful of non-specialists. Maybe you prefer ERA rather than FIP? If so, Mejia is even better, ranking #2 overall in this period.

familia stat

Familia may have been even better than Mejia since May. Familia has allowed only one earned run since June 12. Even if you were to include two unearned runs against him, his ERA would still be a miniscule 1.39. Want to know who is tied with Mejia for No. 2 overall in ERA the last month? It’s Familia. And did I mention that Familia’s average fastball is 96.3 mph?

Both the traditional and the advanced stats love ‘em both. Familia has posted a 2.50 FIP and 3.31 xFIP since May 7, along with inducing 60.2 percent groundball rate and a 13.0 percent swinging strike rate. Mejia has a 2.38 FIP and 3.35 xFIP since June 10th, and his swinging strike rate of 14.4 percent in the last month also ranks ninth in the NL.

Historically Good?

All of this got me thinking about the last time the Mets had such an awesome shutdown pair of relievers at the end of the game. Any Mets fan can recall having a good closer (seriously though, guys, we have had good closers) but I could not recall the last time that the 8th inning guy was just as filthy as a closer.

Jenrry Mejia celebratesThere’s good reason for that inability to recall. Since 1990, the Mets have only had 35 individual seasons where a reliever who pitched at least 40 innings for the team had an ERA of 3.00 or lower… approximately 1.5 per season.

Several of these can be immediately crossed off as flukey or unimpressive (e.g. Roberto Hernandez in 2005 or Elmer Dessens in 2010) or as accomplished by a specialist (e.g. Mark Guthrie in 2002).

Last season, Bobby Parnell was joined by LaTroy Hawkins (2.93 ERA), but that doesn’t feel the same as Mejia-Familia. In 2012, Parnell alone finished with an ERA below 3, and in 2011, nobody did.

2010 featured four Mets relievers with ERAs below 3.00, in Francisco Rodriguez, Manny Acosta, Bobby Parnell, and Elmer Dessens. Did Parnell and K-Rod feel as good as this? Potentially, but I wanted to dig back further for the legitimate “game over” feeling we’ve been getting from Mejia and Familia.

For my money, I think we need to go back to one of either two seasons, 2006 or 1999 (no relievers accomplished the feat in 2009, 2003 or 2001, while only a single reliever did so in 2007, 2005 and 2004).

In 2006, the Mets end game consisted of Billy Wagner (2.24 ERA) and Duaner Sanchez (2.60), along with specialists Chad Bradford (2.90) and Pedro Feliciano (2.09). In 1999, the back end was Armando Benitez (1.85 ERA), John Franco (2.88) and Turk Wendell (3.05). I broke my rule on Wendell, but remember, in 1999 a 3.05 ERA translated to an ERA+ of 145. For sake of comparison, Carlos Torres’ 3.05 ERA this year is only good for an ERA+ of 115.

No matter which way you slice it, the current Mets’ bullpen is in the upper echelon of what we’ve seen for the last two and a half decades.

Beyond Mejia and Familia, the Mets are presently throwing two more every-day relievers out there with ERA’s south of two in Vic Black (1.99) and Josh Edgin (1.62). Rounded out with Carlos Torres and the shockingly resurgent Dana Eveland (2.04 ERA which is actually supported well by a 3.03 FIP) and you’ve got yourselves the making of a bullpen which is five players deep.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what the 1999 and 2006 teams had in common — they were the first seasons in periods of sustained Mets success. Hopefully (imagine if Parnell comes back healthy?) this strong bullpen portends the same kind of success for the current squad.


Brian Mangan is an attorney who lives in New York City. You can read more of his work on TheReadZone.com




83 comments
Shawn Mike Rolli
Shawn Mike Rolli

team broke or like sandy said can't afford another 20 million. but u charge outrageous prices for tickets beer food. but u can't afford anyone ???? why u in NewYork ?? bring in a bat stadium will be packed with fans and a weak line up will look great. with

Kevin Joseph Patrick
Kevin Joseph Patrick

If people are surprised by Mejia & Familia, then they haven't been paying much attention to this team. Before there was Matt Harvey & Zack Wheeler, before there was Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero & Steve Matz, there was Jenrry Mejia & Jeurys Familia. Both of these guys were considered out top pitching prospects before Sandy Alderson rebuilt the farm system & added better, more talented pitchers. Mejia was used by the old manager, Jerry Manuel, in his last season with the club as an attempt to save his job. He gave Mejia a start in Chicago against the Cubs where Mejia showed that he definitely had the talent. Since then, the team messed with his development, switching him between starter & reliever as often as one changes their underwear, and it ultimately led to Mejia being forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. As for Familia, he was considered a guy who could be a #2 or #3 starter on a good team, so long as he could develop his off-speed stuff; his fastball was always seen as plus-plus, dominant with a lot of movement. Unfortunately, after a dominant year in A ball, Familia struggled in a full season at AA & didn't develop his off-speed pitches. At this point, with Familia having a bad year & Mejia rehabbing, most scouts saw them at very good, late inning relievers. That became even more the case as Matt Harvey developed into the pitcher he was, Alderson added Wheeler & Syndergaard, and Montero developed the way he did. Before Mejia & Familia were destined to become relievers, they were seen as our top, can't miss, starting pitcher prospects. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has actually followed this team for any length of time. I've been a diehard fan since I was a young kid in the mid-80's & I have always loved to watch what & who was coming along in the minors. When Familia became a piece in the bullpen & struggled at first, you still saw his dominant stuff & I knew it was only a matter of time before he put it all together. When Mejia broke camp as the 5th starter over Matsuzaka, I felt they were misusing him & once he was moved to the pen, I knew he would flourish. When Mejia was moved back there this year, I was very excited to finally see Familia & Mejia working together to close out games for this team. It has been years in the making for this to happen & now that it has arrived, it is better than anyone could have imagined. I honestly thought that it would be Mejia as the set-up guy & Familia as the closer - Familia has better, "raw" stuff - the sequence that they are in has been stellar. Even if they switched roles right now I feel they would still be just as good. It's unfortunate that Parnell got injured because had he been healthy right now he would be an expendable piece to trade to a contender & get a prospect in return that can help the Mets land a couple power bats this offseason. However, when he comes back, he just becomes another piece back there because he can't match Mejia & Familia stuff-wise & intensity-wise. These two guys are cornerstones of a bullpen that could close out games on championship teams. There aren't many other teams that have the 1-2 punch the Mets do right now. If Vic Black could develop into the player they think he could be, the Mets could have the 7th, 8th & 9th innings on lockdown for a very, very long time. At that point, all you ask is for our starters to give everything they can for 6 innings, then turn it over to a great pen. With guys like Harvey, Wheeler, Niese (if not traded), Gee (Id.), Syndergaard, Montero, and Matz starting games for the Mets, then Black, Familia, and Mejia anchoring the pen, this entire staff has the real potential to be one of the best staffs the Mets have ever had & there have been some good ones.

The bottom line is that no one should be surprised how great Mejia & Familia have been. They were highly touted prospects who were always seen to have dominant, plus-plus stuff. Here they are, dominating the majors together & it has the potential to be that way for many years to come. If they can develop or acquire one more dominant arm - Vic Black - then this bullpen, one that was seen as a liability at the beginning of the year, could be a huge asset for years to come, helping this team deliver division titles, pennants, and hopefully World Series trophies.

lindro88
lindro88

This is what we've been patiently waiting for. Taking power arms from within, and watching them turn into lights out late inning guys.

Michael Meenan
Michael Meenan

Gee - Uh let's clear the air here. I'm simply ecstatic that our bullpen is molding into shape. Can't wait for Syndergaard, Montero, Matz, Hefner, Fulmer & Co. to start forcing the issue. And throw a healthy Parnell into the mix and we have the sort of problems that GMs and managers love.

Hope we don't make a big trade, yet.

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

I strongly dislike this post.  Not only does the post title ooze haughtiness that the author is smarter then the majority of people that have watched or analyzed the team, he utilized an 18 or 19 inning sample for relievers and attempts to put them in HISTORICAL context.  Give me a break.  


Didn't we recent see a reliever go 26 batters in a row retiring guys over 9 appearances?  "Extrapolating that over a year and he'd be the best pitcher ever!"  Wow, no way!


Familia and Mejia have both been fantastic.  Can we give them a chance before we start putting them in this context?  They are two guys that haven't even had a full healthy season yet at the ML level...

yankeehater
yankeehater

I hope the mets dont decide to force familia into the closer's role just because he has closer's "stuff". Mejia is by far the more polished pitcher (obviously) and he really seems to have the mental makeup. Familia seems fine right where he is. 


If things break right with guys returning from injury next year there is no reason why we shouldnt have a top 3 staff  (starters+relievers) in 2015. Kill SA all you want, but this guy has really gotten the job done in the pitching department (and Minaya deserves a lot of credit too).

Jay Cross
Jay Cross

I really appreciated this thorough and thoughtful analysis. Great work! 

Cole Miraglia
Cole Miraglia

Parnell can be the bridge to the bride to the bridge next year.

Michael Martone
Michael Martone

Being the 9th best reliever in the NL by FIP or w/e over like a 2 month period in today's run scoring environment doesn't exactly qualify as "historically good." Not to mention that 19 and 40 inning sample sizes for pitchers are so meaningless and can hardly be considered predictive. We really can't take anything away from all of this. I am glad, though, that someone on Metsblog is even mentioning FIP and xFIP.

jamets
jamets

I wouldn't be shocked to see Mejia included in a trade this winter.  With Parnell coming back and Familia looking closerish, I could see the front office looking at this as an area of strength to potentially make a deal from.

tone
tone

When i see these guys get a 1-2-3 inning then i will trust them more.

nym68
nym68

I'm still laughing at the guy who knows so little about the Mets farm system that he thinks Leathersitch is pitching in Vegas and came up with his own reasons why he hasn't been pitching well. I mean why not just wear a sign that reads " I really don't know anything, but here's my opinion"

Michael Leiman
Michael Leiman

Very nice piece, Brian. Welcome to Metsblog. You're going to be a great addition. Now, as for Familia and Mejia, I'm thinking McDowell and Orosco. Now they were good guys to help close out a game!

Zach Goeringer
Zach Goeringer

Where's the article titled "Chris Young has been even worse than you think"?

Max Denby
Max Denby

@lindro88 Yup.  Love having these 4 power arms for the end of games next year:  Mejia, Familia, Black, Parnell. 

Kevin Joseph Patrick
Kevin Joseph Patrick

Are you intimidated by people who act smarter "then" (it's actually "than," smarty-pants) the majority of fans? What he has posted, regardless of the sample-size, is 100% true. These guys, Mejia & Familia, were highly regarded prospects before they came up. Both were considered starting prospects, but with Mejia's wear & tear injuries, and Familia's inability to develop a solid change-up, they became highly-touted relieving prospects. These guys are doing what they were expected to do. They are not lightning in a bottle, or flash in the pan type relievers. These aren't guys who were picked up off the scrap-heap somewhere or found pitching for the Long Island Ducks. These are guys who were expected to come up here & anchor a bullpen. The fact that they have done it, whether it is over 19 innings or 119 inning, is a story & it is reason to be very optimistic going forward. It has been a very long time since the Mets have an almost automatic win once the starter exits after pitching a 6 inning quality start. In recent years, and for many years before 2006, it was a necessity that the Mets give their bullpen a 3-4 run cushion in order to hold onto the win. Now the team can give the pen a 1-0, 2-1 lead & they are expected to hold on. Once this team adds a couple more bats & all of the starters are healthy & pitching where they should be (in the majors, not AAA), this bullpen has the ability to anchor this team to many wins. If these 2 guys can preserve a run 1 lead most nights, just imagine how good they will be, and how good this team will be, once we have an offense capable of actually scoring 4-5 runs on a consistent basis. As a Mets fan you should be excited, not offended or butthurt because someone thinks they're smarter than you. I'm sure this writer thinks he knows everything, but that doesn't affect me. I know for a fact that I have forgotten more Mets stuff & overall baseball trivia than he has ever learned. To him, Familia & Mejia are surprised, they are revalations. To me, Mejia & Familia's success has been expected bc I follow this team & have followed this team. Writers like to think they know more than their readers. They like to think they are some sort of authority or reference on the topic they're writing about. However, that's not always the case. Don't let it bother you, though. Use the comment section as a tool to show the writer you know more than he thinks you do. Show him your knowledge. Don't waste the time writing about why you don't like his post & write about the flaws in it. When you do that you look like you know as little as he thinks you do.

metzfan22
metzfan22

@BringBackDaveTelghe Not at all. Why are your eyes a better measurement of success than objective statistics? Can you let other people enjoy when the Mets are playing well, or are you going to kill every joy Mets fans get? 

James
James

@BringBackDaveTelghe Well I strongly dislike your post so I guess that makes it okay.  First of all I completely disagree with the "haughtiness" concept, that is a fairly tame header and you are trying to read way way WAY too much into it to come up with that rant.  So why don't you give us a break.


As for the small sample size, of course these are not something we can safely say will continue indefinitely right now, I mean heck we all remember Kevin Maas and his all time great start to his career that was over 3 years later.  But that being said this has been a really good tandem and definitely IS something to get excited about going forward.  Both of them seem to do nothing but getting better in their respective roles and have improved throughout the year in the roles.  Very exciting to say the least for going forward.

#FreeWilmer
#FreeWilmer

@BringBackDaveTelghe Your comment is not fair to the article.  For Mejia, his split begins on May 10th, and for Familia the split begins on May 7th.  Those are 30 and 38 appearances ago respectively -- not 18 or 19 innings.

Of course one or both can regress and turn in a clunker for the rest of the year.  But the peripheral stats have supported the fact that they've been this good, and if they continue to be this good, they will end the season with stats comparable to those of the best Mets bullpens of the last two decades.

It's not a prediction that they will do it, but if they keep it up, that's what will happen. 

Kevin Joseph Patrick
Kevin Joseph Patrick

I like the Minaya part; you couldn't be more correct. People forget that a lot of guys who are helping this team right now are Minaya draftees or Minaya signings. Matt Harvey was Minaya's last first round draft pick, and de Grom came the same year. Familia & Mejia were international signees/draftees from Minaya's regime. Niese & Gee were also from Minaya. It's the same on offense, too. Murphy was a Minaya draftee, Duda the same. Tejada came on board under Minaya's watch as well. People love to blast him because he's an easy target. People also give Alderson a pass, blaming things on the financial restrictions set by the ownership. God knows Minaya made some bad signings that hurt the organization long-term, but he also had the Mets within a game of the World Series in 2006. Alderson hasn't even come close to that. Alderson's Mets have yet to win 80 games, let alone almost make a World Series. Blame the budget all you want; there are plenty of teams with low payrolls who are competitive. They are competitive because their GM is crafty & makes good signings. That hasn't been the case with Alderson. Alderson has hit & miss on almost every free agent except for Byrd & Granderson. That can't happen when you have a low payroll. What he has excelled at is revamping the farm system & getting the most out of Minaya's guys. Down the stretch of this year & into next, it's going to be time to see whether Alderson's guys can get it done & whether he has made the right moves. Up to this point it has been Alderson operating with Minaya's players. So yes, Minaya deserves a TON of credit because without his players the Mets wouldn't have a team to field. Not everything that guy did was bad.

#FreeWilmer
#FreeWilmer

@Michael Jacoutot Thanks for the vote of confidence, and I wish I could take full credit, but somehow the Mets are still only ranked 24th right now in WAR by Fangraphs.  This may be more of a problem with the fact that they use FIP to determine WAR than anything.

Mets starters are 10th in MLB in ERA, and 12th in FIP.

Kevin Joseph Patrick
Kevin Joseph Patrick

40 innings for a reliever is a good measuring stick. Relievers tend to top out at 65-85 innings pitched per year. 40 innings is a half season's worth of innings, so it is pretty accurate. However, with 19 innings you are correct. 19 innings demonstrates a "hot streak" more than it demonstrates historical greatness.

#FreeWilmer
#FreeWilmer

@Michael Martone Thanks for the comment.

The reference to being "historically good" is in Mets history, and for Mejia and Familia *combined*.  You'll see that I was comparing them to other Mets 8th and 9th inning tandems.  Would love more people's input on the comparison.

For both these guys, we've got streaks since early May of 2.03 ERA and 1.16 ERA.  Those are pretty good.  Plus, the underlying metrics (like GB% and Swinging Strike %) which stabilize sooner than ERA support how good they've been.

spelletrader
spelletrader

I prefer Mejia and Familia over Parnell.

Honestly Parnell should have been traded a few years ago.

nym68
nym68

@jamets the Mets are not trading Meija on the basis that Parnell is coming back. Why would you trade a guy who is doing the job for a guy who did ok while doing the job and is recovering from neck surgery...an injury that can easily sap his arm strength? Makes...No...Sense

James
James

@tone Well don't be silly about "a" 1-2-3 inning, Mejia has had 8 1-2-3 appearances (and one of those was a 1-2-3-4-5-6 2 inning job).  You are going to win a lot of games if your 8th and 9th inning guys have a 1.07 WHIP combined and a 2.5 K/BB ratio.

#FreeWilmer
#FreeWilmer

@Michael Leiman I don't remember those guys unfortunately, so I can't speak to the feeling of having them close out games.

But so far, Mejia-Familia is definitely up there with Wagner-Sanchez, Rodriguez-Parnell, and Benitez-Franco. 

Zach Goeringer
Zach Goeringer

All kidding aside its really nice to see someone write an article supported by actual splits, comparisons and insight. Good stuff.

#FreeWilmer
#FreeWilmer

@James Thanks!  I didn't think it read haughty either- didn't intend to.

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

I'm not negative in any way to the kids. They've been absolutely dominant and adding in Black to the mix has been a revelation. My only issue is when you start getting hyperbole thrown around and an incomplete analysis like the one above.

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

Then why even bother showing since June stats encompassing less than 20 innings? Cherry picking at its finest.

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

The 24th ranking makes sense. They haven't hit their stride till recently, have 2 pitchers with eras around 4 and Dice K who put up some pretty bad peripheral numbers.

Michael Martone
Michael Martone

@#FreeWilmer Thanks for the response. Believe me, these guys have been good of late, but I just want to pump the brakes. In some key underlying categories, here is how Mejia and Familia rank in the national league amongst qualified relievers (and this is only including Mejia's appearances as a reliever):


NL reliever K%: Mejia - 23rd, Familia - 30th


NL reliever BB%: Mejia - 49th, Familia - 47th


NL reliever K/BB: Mejia - 37th, Familia - 51st


NL reliever GB%: Mejia - 34th, Familia - 13th


Not to mention Familia has only a .262 BABIP against. Basically, these underlying skill rankings show that Mejia and Familia are not elite relievers even within their own league, let alone the majors. 


Everything is relative, if you want to have an elite bullpen then it needs to actually be significantly better compared to average bullpens within your league. These two guys are having nice seasons in a vacuum, but compared to the rest of the NL crop of relievers they're really not all that special (unless you start considering the value that they provide these numbers while being paid the major league minimum). 


Thanks for the article, and I appreciate the intelligent discussion that you've been able to galvanize.

nym68
nym68

@#FreeWilmer Being that I'm older than most people on here I still prefer the eye- test over analytics, but I'm not too old to think that stats such as the ones you were mentioning should not be used. There needs to be a combination of the two in order to evaluate players more precisely.

Having not been around to see the McDowell-Orosco tandem it's probably hard for you to fully appreciate that these two guys were pretty much the entire bullpen-for a few years! What they had more than most combinations is durability and balls. The same goes for The Nasty Boys from Cincinnati. On their own they were all ok and probably not statistical darlings, but in tandems they were all great for a short period of time. 

Once again, I'm not arguing against the need for statistical analysis. Just fighting for more of the old way of judging talent

spelletrader
spelletrader

Parnell had Tommy John surgery in April, the neck is just another concern on top of that.

stemog
stemog

@nym68 @jamets Parnell had Tommy John surgery. He had neck surgery last year.  Mejia isn't going anywhere.

Michael Leiman
Michael Leiman

@#FreeWilmer @Michael Leiman All good pairings. Two things different about McDowell and Orosco. There wasn't one set closer. Manager Davey Johnson went with whoever he felt was the best choice for the situation as one was righty the other lefthanded. And the pair helped the Mets win their last championship! Definitely makes them special.

metzfan22
metzfan22

@BringBackDaveTelghe Ummm you're an extremely negative fan. Be happy about one thing, or stop watching baseball, because it's for entertainment. If you can't enjoy Mejia and Familia, maybe find a new hobby. 

#FreeWilmer
#FreeWilmer

@BringBackDaveTelghe Obviously, the smaller sample you get, the less predictive it will be.  Nobody thinks Familia is going to have an 0.47 ERA forever. 

But on the other hand, a month and a half isn't nothing either.  They've been ridiculous for six weeks, and people should know that.

#FreeWilmer
#FreeWilmer

@Michael Martone 

This is a good comment.  Listen, nobody is arguing that Mejia is Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen ... he might not even be J.J. Hoover. 

However Mejia and Familia have been good, and better lately --- and the fact that we've got 2 of them (or 3, with Black, or 4, with Edgin) is a unique thing for Mets fans. 

Mejia is 20th in the NL on the season in ERA, Familia is 13th. Only the Giants and Nationals have more than two relievers in the Top 20 (Casilla, Affeldt, Machi and Storen, Clippard, Soriano).

nym68
nym68

@Michael Martone @#FreeWilmer My problem is in worthless numbers like K%. I want a closer who can come in during the eighth inning with one out and runner on first and throw one pitch to end the inning. Closers don't have to strikeout everyone, those guys are what they always were THROWERS.I want a guy who knows how to pitch. Strikeouts are great. Walks are bad. Ok we all get it. But outs are what you want in a closer.

Michael Leiman
Michael Leiman

@nym68 @#FreeWilmer LOL, I know what you mean, nym! Years ago, before it became fashionable, I understood the importance of OBA, mainly because I lead off when I played ball. I thought I was SO insightful and baseball sophisticated! Now I'm struggling to get the feel for these new metrics. It's like baseball on a quantum level! As for McDowell and Orosco, I knew they were good because they sure looked good...especially when Orosco was throwing his glove in the air after clinching the World Series!

nym68
nym68

@stemog you're right. I mixed up my surgeries, but my point remains the same in that Mejia isn't going anywhere. It would be stupid to consider moving him for a guy who wasn't as good as he is in the role plus is injured. When Parnell comes to ST it's too he's healthy. Then he's insurance out trade bait

Michael Martone
Michael Martone

@#FreeWilmer Totally fair re the recent results. The good news as well is that these guys are still so young and will be relatively cheap going forward (although I think Mejia will be Super 2 eligible this fall). 


With them growing into their roles along with Vic Black, and a (hopefully) healthy Bobby Parnell coming back next April/May, it's not at all unreasonable to think they could be one of the couple best bullpens in the NL next year--if not one of the hardest throwing. 


That backend of the bullpen will be a lot more valuable next year finishing out games pitched by our Matt Harvey-led uber-prospect rotation.

Michael Jacoutot
Michael Jacoutot

@imjimmybx dude, cmon.. everyone knows that you can give up two runs in an inning, have an 18 era and still be perfect in save opportunities.  The blown save stat is by far a panacea.