Familia interim closer, but Blevins will also get chances
Mejia on track to return to Mets in late April
WASHINGTON -- With Jenrry Mejia nursing his inflamed right elbow for at least the next 10 days, Jeurys Familia will close for the Mets -- except for the times when he doesn't.
While manager Terry Collins reiterated Wednesday that Familia will serve as interim closer, the Mets will use Jerry Blevins in matchup situations if left-handed hitters emerge in the ninth. That could take the form of Blevins facing a single left-handed batter before the Mets turn to their closer, like what happened Monday with Bryce Harper. Or it could take the form of Blevins registering a save or two himself, with the Mets relying on fellow left-handers Alex Torres and Sean Gilmartin earlier in games.
"We'll piece it together," Collins said. "It depends on what the situations are going to be. If Jeurys shows us he can get lefties out, in some certain situations he'll be the guy. But we're very fortunate to have three lefties down there. If there's a case where we just think our best option is going to be a lefty, we'll go there. But right now, Jeurys is going to close."
Given Familia's success last summer -- posting a 2.21 ERA, striking out nearly a batter per inning and generating ground balls at a 57.4-percent clip -- the Mets are interested to see how he handles the role.
"He's made huge advancements," Collins said. "Last year in the second half of the season, I thought his confidence just soared each and every time he went out there. He throws so hard, he's got to command that big sinker that he's got and he started doing that. That, and the fact that he threw his breaking ball for strikes, he became tough to hit. We all thought down the line, if something ever happened, he's got closer kind of stuff. We'll see how he does."
With Familia holding down the ninth, Carlos Torres will serve as the Mets' primary eighth-inning setup man and Rafael Montero will pitch in the seventh in Mejia's absence. Though the Mets are curious to see how Montero in particular responds to his new role, they hope the entire arrangement is only temporary; Mejia's MRI revealed no structural damage in his right elbow, setting him up for a late April return.
"He was very scared the other day when his elbow tightened up on him," Collins said. "We're glad that he's OK and we'll just fill in until he gets back."