WASHINGTON - Jeurys Familia looked like a machine that was missing a gear.
The heavy sink that turned his pitches into lead projectiles seemed reticent to return from the long winter away. What was left looked so underwhelming, so pedestrian, so hittable.
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Then the lights came on Monday, and not a moment too soon for the Mets, who on Tuesday placed closer Jenrry Mejia on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Sunday.
X-rays and an MRI in New York revealed posterior elbow inflammation but no structural damage. Mejia received a cortisone injection and will be shut down for at least 10 days.
To replace him, the Mets recalled Erik Goeddel from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Closing duties likely will fall to Familia. "As I've always said, I'll be ready for anything, it doesn't matter what inning, what situation," said Familia, who had a 2.21 ERA in 76 appearances last season.
The news on Mejia came one day after the Mets turned to Familia in the opener, when they needed to protect a two-run lead in the eighth. This time, the parts clicked. The machine roared to life.
"I don't worry about what happened in spring training, you know?" Familia said after tossing a shutout inning in the 3-1 win over the Nationals.
"Like I've said, I just wanted to make sure all my pitches were ready for Opening Day."
Tightness seized Mejia's right elbow in the middle of the ninth as he attempted to warm up for the save chance. The pain never relented.
It was a particularly troubling development for Mejia, 25, whose career already has been derailed by Tommy John surgery. That injury history is why he initially was cool to the idea of converting from starter to reliever last season.
Mejia began last year as the fifth starter. But when closer Bobby Parnell went down with an elbow injury, it created an opening that was filled by Mejia.
Now, the Mets must hope that rest and treatment will cause the pain to subside. In the interim, Terry Collins already has expressed confidence that Familia can step in.
Familia needed only 14 pitches to log a perfect eighth. He struck out two. His fastball lit up the radar gun at 98 mph and his sinkers averaged 97. To keep the Nationals honest, he sprinkled in four nasty sliders.
"What you saw tonight is what we saw for three months last year," Collins had said. "It was exactly that -- great stuff, in the strike zone, used his pitches when he has to throw something beside the fastball."
That dominance had been missing in spring training, when Familia had a 5.59 ERA. His velocity scraped the low 90s and his timing appeared off.
"Maybe he's one of those guys in spring training, he's so stinkin' big, it takes a little time to maybe get the mechanics down," Collins said.
Familia, 25, is a hulking figure atop the rubber, the height of the mound only enhancing his 6-3, 240-pound frame. Against the Nationals, he exerted near total control over all of it.
By the middle of the ninth, Familia had retreated to the clubhouse. He missed the Mets' bullpen scurrying like office workers surprised by an afternoon fire drill.
But the Mets got their machine back. And if a save chance arises Wednesday night, there shouldn't be any scrambling over the final three outs.
"I trust my stuff," Familia said. "Like I always do."