53° Good Morning
53° Good Morning
SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Jeurys Familia's transformation from setup man to closer is major story line for Mets

New York Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia reacts

New York Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia reacts after the last out against the Atlanta Braves in a game at Citi Field on Sunday, June 14, 2014. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

It started as Banner Day at Citi Field on Sunday.

It ended as Father's Day.

As in new father Jeurys Familia, who sandwiched the birth of his first son around a pair of saves.

The first was Friday -- Jeurys Jr. was born just as his dad recorded the final outs -- and the second was a four-out job Sunday in the Mets' come-from-behind 10-8 win over the Braves.

"The last couple of days have been the best days of my life," Familia said. "I feel really happy having my first baby."

The Mets are really happy they have Familia. Manager Terry Collins, who watched his bullpen implode in Familia's absence Saturday in an extra-inning loss to Atlanta, was thrilled to welcome his closer back to the team.

"I can't say enough about the job he's done," Collins said after the Mets rewarded the Banner Day crowd of 36,340 by rallying from an 8-3 deficit. "He is now the guy. He's the guy we've got to get to. When you talk about shortening games, you look up in the seventh inning and you're figuring out, 'How do we get six outs here?' because then we can get to The Man. And that's what he's become."

The transformation of Familia from shy setup man a year ago to lights-out closer has been one of the stories of this Mets season. Remember, Jenrry Mejia started the season as the ninth-inning guy before getting suspended for 80 games for steroids. And former closer Bobby Parnell has rejoined the bullpen and made his second successful appearance Sunday.

Unless Familia gets injured, neither is getting his old job back.

"They talked about him when he came in this morning after being home [Saturday]," Collins said. "He was very, very excited. A lot of guys were excited to see him. When he walked through the door, the first thing you heard was, 'The Man's here.' And that's what he's become."

Sunday, Familia came in to face Mets-killer Freddie Freeman as the tying run in the eighth. Freeman grounded a hot shot up the middle that rookie Dilson Herrera fielded with a dive and flipped to second with his glove on a hop for the inning-ending forceout.

In the ninth, Familia allowed a one-out single to Juan Uribe, but retired the final two batters for his 19th save in 20 chances. It was his fourth save of four or more outs this season, which tied him for tops in the majors with Baltimore's Zach Britton.

The other three for Familia were five-out saves, so Sunday's was almost like a day off.

Familia took Saturday off after his son's birth Friday night. He likely wouldn't have pitched, anyway, since he had appeared the previous two nights.

Familia revealed after Sunday's game that his fiancee, Bianca Rivas, had been in the hospital since Thursday and was experiencing high blood pressure. So Collins gave him permission to keep his phone with him in the bullpen Friday.

It turned out the call to the bullpen came before the call from the hospital.

'When I got in the game, they started to call," he said.

After Familia got the last two outs on a game-ending double play with the bases loaded, bullpen coach Ricky Bones told him he'd better get back to the hospital. He was a father.

"To see him . . . I don't have words to say how I feel," Familia said.

Reminded that next Sunday is the real Father's Day -- his first -- Familia smiled as big as his fastball and said: "Oh, yeah. I'm excited."


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports