December 12th, 2016
Ben Berkon, a sports columnist for Forbes Magazine (and previously SNY.TV’s MetsBlog) asked a question not enough people are asking. Who will the Mets turn to in the ninth inning in the beginning of the 2017 season?
For one thing, it probably will not be Jeurys Familia, who was arrested in November for domestic violence charges, and, if the punishment is similar to that of Aroldis Chapman, the first person to be arrested under charges of domestic violence, Familia will be forced to sit down for the first 30 games. If MLB believes this is more serious, MLB might decide for a more lengthy punishment, similar to that of Jose Reyes, who was given a 52-game ban after shoving his wife.
So, when Major League Baseball annouces the suspension, the Mets will be without their all-star closer for about a month to a month and a half, and, considering how important Familia has been to this team, it’s important to evaluate and review what stop gaps the Mets could put in place until Familia is reinstated.
The best option I see is Addison Reed, who was extremely impressive as the Mets set-up man in 2016, who posted a 1.97 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP, and a 10.55 K/9, which are all extremely impressive figures. However, as lucrative as it may be to choose Reed as the interim closer, I’d prefer to leave Reed’s routine as is. Reed is a successful set-up man, and while he did flourish in the ninth inning opportunities he given, it’d be better to keep in eighth inning mode the entire year. Of course, that’s a luxury the Mets might not be able to afford if they cannot find another adequate replacement.
Another one of those “adequate replacements” could be Hansel Robles, who was rocky last year, but did look better towards the last few weeks of the year, and, if he’s able to be conditioned in Spring Training properly, I’d be willing to give him a shot. The only other option besides playing it by ear, which in my opinion never really seems to work, would be looking outside and acquiring a Jason Isringhausen, Kyle Farnsworth, Jose Valverde type guy, who is an older veteran that knows how to wrap up a game, but might not have much of a price tag associated with him, and will take a leadership role once Familia comes back, like LaTroy Hawkins in 2013.
This, to me, is the best option, but there aren’t too many arms that are established closers a few years away from retirement. One of those people that could be considered is Jim Henderson, but he appeared to run out of gas really early last year, and I doubt the Mets will re-sign him.
Whatever path the Mets choose, they should evaluate their options quick, as they could find themselves without a Familia until Memorial Day if things don’t work out…