Mets skipper will let young right-hander close when Black, Parnell return
By Joe Trezza
NEW YORK -- Jeurys Familia has impressed Mets manager Terry Collins enough to remain in the closer's role, at least initially, when Bobby Parnell and Vic Black return from rehab assignments.
"If Bobby Parnell and Vic Black show up tomorrow, Jeurys Familia will still close," Collins said. "Again, it's been a year since Bobby's been out there. If when he shows up, he shows the same stuff he showed us a year ago, we will try to get him back in the role that he's comfortable with."
Parnell saved 22 games for New York in 2013 before missing most of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The right-hander -- once known to reach triple digits with his fastball -- has struggled to regain his velocity in his rehab assignment.
Black, on the other hand, has pitched well in three rehab starts and is on pace to return from shoulder fatigue issues before Parnell. Collins said Black will inherit the setup role immediately.
"When Vic Black comes, he's going to be in that setup situation," Collins said. "I can't tell you when that's going to be."
Parnell's old spot is available, but it will not be handed to him.
In a perfect world, Collins wants to see Parnell win the ninth-inning job back, Black man the eighth and Familia handle the seventh.
But Familia has been very good since being thrust into the closer's role last week following Jenrry Mejia's 80-game suspension. Familia has converted his first five save chances and sports a 2.70 ERA entering Sunday's series finale against the Marlins. He's allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings after struggling in Spring Training.
His command has improved in a short sample size, with Familia striking out nine batters against one walk after posting a 2.3 strikeout-to-walk rate last season.
Last season, Familia excelled in the middle innings as a rookie, posting a 2.21 ERA in 77 1/3 innings. He struggled with his command at times, but struck out almost a batter per inning, notable for a sinkerball pitcher.
He saved five games in 76 appearances in 2014.
He has five saves in seven appearances in 2015, which have all come during the Mets' seven-game win streak.
"Certainly, right now Jeurys Familia has pitched well enough," Collins said. "He is that guy until those other guys show us they're ready."
Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.