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Thursday, 23 March 2023 13:40

The New York Mets went to the World Series without their closer before

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Ya know…Jeurys Familia wasn’t exactly the Mets first choice. Nope, he wasn’t. Actually, the Mets were counting on some guy named Jenrry Mejia. Where did THAT come from? Well…with so many so-called experts counting the Mets out because Edwin Diaz is out for the year, the name Mejia should serve as a reminder.

After being groomed as a starter, Mejia had a somewhat breakout season in 2014 coming out of the pen. He made 63 appearances and pitched to a 6-6 record with an ERA of 3.65 and picked up seven saves. Mejia impressed by averaging 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

Mejia was primed to be the closer for the 2015 season. But, guess what? On Opening Day…OPENING DAY…Mejia was warming up for a 9th inning save but came up lame before entering the game. He went on the 15-game DL with an elbow issue. But wait…there’s more. While on the DL, MLB announced it was suspending Mejia for 80 games for testing positive for a banned substance. The Mets replaced Mejia with Familia, who had been serving in a set-up role.

Familia flourished in the closer’s role, and continued in the role when Mejia returned in July. Briefly. Because no sooner did he return, Mejia was then suspended for another 162 games for yet another positive test.

Familia, obviously before he became the target of the fans taunting and jeering, became one of the heroes of that 2015 National League Championship team. And it wasn’t too long ago that Diaz, himself, was the target of the fans taunting and jeering.

Yes, Diaz had a spectacular season in 2022. It was one of the best seasons for a relief pitcher this side of Yankee Stadium and Mariano Rivera. But, as we have clearly seen, pitching is NEVER a sure thing. Bullpens are never infallible. And closers? They are NEVER perfect.

Could Diaz have replicated 2022? That’s what everyone in Metsland was hoping for and counting on. But the reality is that you just never know. Bullpens are like a mixed bag of nuts. And in this era, teams shuttle pitchers back and forth to the minor leagues the way the Yankees were mocked for when they were using the New York-Columbus-New York shuttle back in the 1970’s…perhaps even more.

Losing a key player is always a blow. But the Braves were without Ronald Acuna, Jr. for a third of the season and the Braves had several young players step up and they won the Eastern Division title. The Phillies were without Bryce Harper for almost half the season and they rallied to make the playoffs and won the World Series.

Okay…so we won’t hear trumpets blaring, but perhaps we might be treated to the sound of another instrument, be dazzled by another young arm who can replicate what Familia did in 2015.

Read 1773 times Last modified on Friday, 10 May 2024 12:58
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Alan Karmin is an award-winning journalist and author. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and spent most of his life growing up in the New Jersey suburbs. Alan's family were avid Brooklyn Dodgers fans and when the Dodgers moved west, the Mets became the team to root for. The Mets have always been a true focal point, Alan even wrote a term paper in high school to analyze what was wrong with the Mets. While at the University of Miami, Alan honed his craft covering the, gulp, Yankees during spring trainings in Fort Lauderdale for a local NBC affiliate, as well as the Associated Press and UPI. He broadcasted baseball games for the University of Miami, and spring training games for the Baltimore Orioles and Montreal Expos. New York Mets Mania is a forum for Alan to write about his favorite team and for baseball fans to chime in and provide their thoughts and ideas about New York's Amazin' Mets.