Jeurys Familia continues to be a Brodie Van Wagenen buzzkill
The Mets has fought back to even. It was 2-2 in the eighth inning, on a night when it felt like it might take an act of Congress for the Mets to get that second run, to get even with the Phillies, to grind another game closer to the Cubs.
Bryce Harper led off the eighth with a single off Daniel Zamora. Mickey Callaway came to get Zamora. The bullpen door opened. In jogged Jeurys Familia. And all across the precincts where people care about the Mets you could hear something that sounded like an ominous sigh. Loud and clear.
Familia has been better lately, but he has been terrible all year. He walked the first man he faced, Rhys Hoskins. That set up the whole inning: a deep fly ball advancing the runners, an intentional walk, lastly a bases-clearing double by Scott Kingery. A 2-2 tie was a 5-2 Phillies lead, and soon a 5-2 Phillies win.
Familia had failed. Again. And by association, Brodie Van Wagenen, who signed Familia to a $30 million deal, had failed. Again. Such is the scorecard next to Van Wagenen’s name now, especially now, as the season dwindles down to its final hours.
So much of the season has been shadowed by the first trade of Van Wagenen’s tenure, the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade that will provide water-cooler fodder for years to come.
Lately, the Mets’ GM has been able to bask in his successes. There is J.D. Davis, of course, who despite recent struggles is still a core element in the Mets lineup (though he was given the night off Sunday, given a funk in the past nine games). Van Wagenen stole Davis from the Astros. It is the brightest feather in his cap so far.
And there is Wilson Ramos, too, of course. These are the kinds of things you look up once a player decides he’s going to get a hit every day for a week, then two, then three.
Did you know:
- That a hitting streak is not terminated if, during the course of a game, a player only draw walks (or hit-by pitches)?
- That a hitting streak is not terminated if, in a player’s only plate appearance or appearances, he sacrifice bunts, or is victimized by defensive interference?
- That a hitting streak is terminated if, in a players only appearance or appearances, he hits into a sacrifice fly?
These are things that are rarely relevant when a player assembles a hitting streak higher than, say, 20 games because even the most stubborn manager is going to keep that player and his presumably smoking-hot bat in the lineup as long and as often as he possibly can.
But, then, most hitting streaks aren’t assembled by catchers.
And, thus, when someone like Wilson Ramos assembles such a streak in the heat of a pennant race, it matters. Though Ramos has played more than your average catcher — he’s on pace to squat 130 times this year, a Yadier Molina-esque number — he still has to sit at least once a week. In May, perhaps that guarantees a day off. In September, it means he will almost certainly be called upon to pinch hit, maybe only get one crack at extending the streak.
Ramos entered Sunday night’s game with the Phillies with a live 24-game hitting streak, and extended it to 25 with a fourth-inning double, and there are two things that make that an especially interesting thing.
First: He was hitting .446 with a ridiculous 1.067 OPS during the stretch, meaning he wasn’t just on a hitting streak he was on a scorching streak, getting multiple hits in 11 of those games. Saturday was his third four-hit game in the streak.
Also: He didn’t start three of those games. Twice — Aug. 16 at Kansas City, Aug. 25 against the Braves at Citi Field — he singled in his only at-bat. Friday in Philadelphia, he tied the game with a pinch single in the seventh, then got two more at-bats when the. The Mets blew the game open in the eighth and ninth innings.
Now, here is the place where it’s a federal law to point out that, with only 27 games left in the season, the closest Ramos could come to Joe DiMaggio and his fabled 56-game streak is 51 before running out of season, and …
“I had 19 straight with the Nationals,” Ramos said Saturday, asked about how familiar he was with the magic number of 56. “As soon as I found out [the record] was 56, I said ‘No way. No chance.’ ”
That’s a safe bet. But so is this: Ramos and his unlikely partner at the heart of the Mets’ batting order, Davis, and the bookend lefties in the bullpen (Justin Wilson and Luis Avilan) had helped salvage Van Wagenen’s first year on the job in recent weeks.
Wilson and Avilan got the most important outs in Saturday’s win, and will be looked upon to be workhorses all across September. Ramos has been every bit the hitting machine for the Mets that he always was against them when he played for the Nationals. And Davis has been the biggest steal for the Mets in years.
All of these things had forced a recalibration of Van Wagenen’s early work. And then the bullpen door opened Sunday night, and out jogged Familia, and we were all reminded that the GM’s work is still a work in progress. A weekend of buzz had turned into a buzzkill of a Sunday. Par for the course for Van Wagenen’s Mets.
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