Familia garnering consideration as top reliever
Jeurys Familia finished more games (65) than any pitcher in Major League Baseball during the regular season, and he has finished eight of the Mets' nine games so far this postseason.
Looking ahead to Game 2 of the 111th World Series, there is a possibility that Familia could finish that night by throwing the last pitch as well. But consider this: Will he also start those festivities with an appearance?
The Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award and the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award presented by The Hartford will be handed out on Wednesday before Game 2 in a Major League Baseball pregame press event.
While there are no official "nominees" for these awards, likely candidates could include the Mets' breakout closer, along with Aroldis Chapman of the Reds, Mark Melancon of the Pirates and Trevor Rosenthal of the Cardinals in the NL, and Cody Allen of the Indians, Zach Britton of the Orioles, Andrew Miller of the Yankees and Wade Davis of the Royals in the AL.
The awards are voted on by a nine-member panel comprised of Hoffman and Rivera, as well as fellow legendary closers Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith, John Franco and Billy Wagner. The group represents the four living relief pitchers in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and is inclusive of the top six all-time saves leaders.
As part of the balloting process, all nine voters will pick three relievers from each league based solely on regular-season performance; selections are not restricted to closers. From there, a 5-3-1 weighted point system is used to determine the winners.
Only the illustrious blue-ribbon panel knows how this internal award debate will go down, but if any of them sneak a peek at postseason numbers, Familia's stock only would soar further. But just consider his regular-season stats:
• Pitched 78 innings for the Mets this season, first among NL closers and second among all NL relievers only to Justin De Fratus of the Phillies (80).
• Finished third in the Majors with 43 saves (Melancon had 51 and Rosenthal 48), tying the club's single-season saves record set by Armando Benitez in 2001.
• Had the ninth-lowest ERA (1.85) in the Majors, and the fourth-lowest ERA in team history (both based on minimum 60 innings).
• Opponents hit .207 off him, the 13th-lowest mark in the NL (minimum 60 innings). Right-handers hit .201 (32-159) and lefties 27-126 (.214).
• Boston's Brock Holt, who was one of those whiffed by Chapman's heat at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati, said after seeing Familia in August: "Nastiest pitcher in the world."
Familia was one of five NL candidates in the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote. Although Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez won that vote to decide a last roster spot for the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile, but Familia's contributions became considerably more known among fans around the game as a result of that campaign.
"They trust me," Familia said after his huge six-out save in the Game 5 NL Division Series clincher against the Dodgers. "That's why my confidence has grown. My coaches, teammates trust me."
Jenrry Mejia was envisioned as Mets closer in 2015, but his disciplinary action for PED use opened the door for Familia. The rest is history -- another homegrown Mets talent done good.
"Every time I go out there, it doesn't matter the score, I go to enjoy it," Familia said after finishing off Mookie Betts and the Red Sox on Aug. 30. "For me, it's the same. I'm just trying to go out there and make my pitches and get hitters out."
The Hartford awards were instituted last year as a replacement for MLB's "Delivery Man of the Year Award," which was presented to one winner in all of MLB from 2005-13, and it continues a longstanding baseball tradition of honoring the game's top relief pitchers. Craig Kimbrel won the first one in the NL and Greg Holland won it in the AL.