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Mets players and coaches agree: Jeurys Familia has carried the bullpen

New York Mets pitcher Jeurys Familia and catcher

New York Mets pitcher Jeurys Familia and catcher Kevin Plawecki celebrate after the final out of the ninth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco, Wednesday, July 8, 2015. Credit: AP / Jeff Chiu

SAN FRANCISCO - It hardly is a surprise that the Mets have lived off their pitching considering the high-octane talent in their starting rotation.

But that success has extended to a bullpen that has thrived primarily because of one man: Jeurys Familia.

Barring a last-minute surge, the Mets' closer won't be rewarded with a trip to the All-Star Game. With voting scheduled to end Friday, Familia trails the other four candidates.

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Johnny Cueto (Reds) leads the fan voting, ahead of Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) and Carlos Martinez (Cardinals).

But within the Mets' clubhouse, little ambiguity exists about Familia's role in carrying a bullpen that has flourished despite missing critical pieces for much of the season.

"We know what he's done for our team," bullpen coach Rickey Bones said. "He's an All-Star and the MVP in our bullpen."

The Mets rank third in the National League with a 3.26 ERA. The bullpen has posted a 2.80 ERA, behind only the Cardinals and Pirates in the NL.

Those results can be traced back to Familia, 25, who on Wednesday lowered his ERA to 1.12 as he nailed down his 24th save in his first season as the Mets' closer.

Jenrry Mejia, who assumed those duties last season, wound up on the suspended list in April because of a 80-game PED ban. He returned only this week.

Bobby Parnell, the Mets' closer in 2013, returned only recently, and his velocity has yet to come back to form. Vic Black remains on the disabled list after being sidelined with injuries stemming from a disc issue in his neck.

Lefty specialist Jerry Blevins, acquired in a spring training trade, fractured his elbow early in the season and his return still appears far off.

Nevertheless, the bullpen has thrived despite a cast of unproven arms, mostly because they've been able to lean heavily on Familia.

"I don't feel pressure because like I always say, if I feel pressure, I'm going to do bad," Familia said. "I just try to enjoy and enjoy the game. If I have a bad outing, just move forward to the next day. But I've never felt pressure this year. I trust myself 100 percent."

The Mets' starting pitchers have played a role as well.

Because they have logged the most innings in the National League (537), the bullpen has been charged with pitching the fewest (2251/3).

"We've kept the bullpen fresh and ready," Bones said. "When the bullpen's fresh, that means they're going to be able to execute. We're blessed to have this kind of starting rotation."

Of those 2251/3 relief innings, Familia has pitched 401/3, the most among the team's relievers.

In one way, it's also the heaviest workload of any closer in the National League. Familia's innings comprise 17.9 percent of his team's entire workload, the highest percentage of any closer in the league.

Indeed, Familia's duties often have gone beyond the scope of what's expected of modern-day closers. He has made seven multiple-inning appearances and has entered a game with runners on base nine times.

As manager Terry Collins has said often, Familia has done so without complaint.

"I just love being in the game to help my team win," Familia said. "They gave me the opportunity to be a major league baseball player when I signed for the first time. They made my dream. I'm just trying to enjoy and do the best I can and try to win."

Familia insists that's enough, regardless of whether it is acknowledged with a selection to the All-Star Game.

"If I make it, I'll be fine," he said. "If not, it's OK."

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