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Bartolo Colon has had huge impact on Jeurys Familia

New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40)

New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) and relief pitcher Jeurys Familia (27) stretch during warmups before Game 2 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015. Credit: Newsday / William Perlman

Bartolo Colon -- ageless, but 42 for the sake of argument -- lumbers out of the bullpen and toward the mound. Once there, he takes the ball and gets down to business, most likely throwing fastball after fastball with the air of a man who does not care if he's pitching in the first inning or the seventh, in the playoffs or on Mars.

But this isn't really about Bartolo Colon, as fascinating as he is. This is about the man who stands next to him in the outfield during batting practice, who asks him for advice on life and baseball, and who translates that wisdom to on-field domination.

The Jeurys Familia who can go six outs for a save, as he did in Game 5 of the NLDS, doesn't quite exist without Colon.

"Bartolo always reminds me to come prepared for any situation," Familia said before earning his fourth save of the postseason with a scoreless ninth in the Mets' 4-1 win over the Cubs in NLCS Game 2 Sunday night. "I know I'm going to pitch the ninth, but I'm going to prepare myself that anything could happen before the ninth, and I need to do whatever the team asks of me."

Going into Sunday night's game, Familia's mindset has paid handsome dividends. Before allowing a hit and a walk in 11/3 innings for his third playoff save in NLCS Game 1, Familia had retired all 16 batters to face him.

The feat is even more significant in that Familia began in the Mets' organization as a starter, moved to setup man in the majors, became the permanent closer this year after Jenrry Mejia's suspension for steroid use, and is regularly being asked to pitch more than one inning in the first postseason appearances of his career. His adaptability makes more sense, though, when you find out that Colon has his ear.

"Bartolo has been a blessing for Jeurys Familia, a blessing," Terry Collins said. "You look, here we are, game what? One hundred ninety of the season? And I will bet you that 190 times, those two have stood in the outfield someplace or have been someplace to talk."

Colon tends to lead by example, too. He brings levity to the clubhouse. When he was moved to the bullpen for the playoffs, Collins previously said it didn't "bother him a lick." Colon spent the better part of 16 seasons in the American League, but when he was asked to hit, he took it seriously (no matter how much fun people have on social media with his outsized swing). He has four RBIs this year and, improbably, a double.

"For me, he's like a brother," Familia said. "He's one of the guys that help me not just in baseball, but as a person, too -- to be a better person. I've got an opportunity to be close to him and learn from him because he's been in baseball a long time . . . Whatever questions I have about baseball or life, I ask Bartolo."

Familia doesn't have to go too far now that Colon is in the bullpen with him -- waiting his turn to pitch and already doing his part as a psychological setup man behind one of the best closers in the game.


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