Familia flourished in the closer’s role, and continued in the role when Mejia returned in July. Briefly. Because no sooner did he return, Mejia was then suspended for another 162 games for yet another positive test.
Familia, obviously before he became the target of the fans taunting and jeering, became one of the heroes of that 2015 National League Championship team. And it wasn’t too long ago that Diaz, himself, was the target of the fans taunting and jeering.
Yes, Diaz had a spectacular season in 2022. It was one of the best seasons for a relief pitcher this side of Yankee Stadium and Mariano Rivera. But, as we have clearly seen, pitching is NEVER a sure thing. Bullpens are never infallible. And closers? They are NEVER perfect.
Could Diaz have replicated 2022? That’s what everyone in Metsland was hoping for and counting on. But the reality is that you just never know. Bullpens are like a mixed bag of nuts. And in this era, teams shuttle pitchers back and forth to the minor leagues the way the Yankees were mocked for when they were using the New York-Columbus-New York shuttle back in the 1970’s…perhaps even more.
Losing a key player is always a blow. But the Braves were without Ronald Acuna, Jr. for a third of the season and the Braves had several young players step up and they won the Eastern Division title. The Phillies were without Bryce Harper for almost half the season and they rallied to make the playoffs and won the World Series.
Okay…so we won’t hear trumpets blaring, but perhaps we might be treated to the sound of another instrument, be dazzled by another young arm who can replicate what Familia did in 2015.