Saving Mr. Jeurys


Life can be unfair sometimes, and it’s hard to stir up a whole lot of empathy for a guy who in a couple of years will be making more — much more — in a month than I’ve made in my lifetime …

But Jeurys Familia got screwed.

Because in a few years, someone will ask a trivia question: Who has the most blown saves in a single World Series? And the answer will be: Jeurys Familia of the Mets. Three blown saves in 2015.

And yeah, it isn’t quite the same as being the captain of the Costa Concordia, but still …

He didn’t deserve “credit” for three blown saves. But they’ll be enshrined in the box scores forever, and that just ain’t right.

And, like all Mets fans, I take this stuff personally.

Let’s have a look at how this all went down:

Game One

Jeurys enters the game with two out and a man on third in the bottom of the eighth and induces a groundout. In the bottom of the ninth, with the Mets ahead, 4-3, he serves up a solo home run to Alex Gordon. Five innings later, the Royals score a run off Bartolo Colon to win 5-4.

OK, that’s Blown Save No. 1. No argument there. When you’re leading by a run in the bottom of the ninth and you serve up a game-tying home run, that’s a blown save for sure.

Game Four

Jeurys enters the game with one out and men on first and second in the top of the eighth. Mets are ahead 3-2. The first batter he faces, Eric Hosmer, hits a routine ground ball to second baseman Daniel Murphy, who thinks the ball has Ebola. BLOWN SAVE NUMBER TWO! If Murphy gets the guy out, it’s second and third with two out, and Familia is in good position to get out of the jam he didn’t create.

Game Five

Terry Collins sends Matt Harvey out to pitch the ninth with the Mets leading 2-0, because Harvey is THE MAN and deserves a shot at a complete-game shutout. But Harvey immediately walks Lorenzo Cain and serves up a double to Eric Goddam Hosmer, and the score is now 2-1 with a man on second and nobody out. Enter Familia. A ground ball to first sends Hosmer to third. Then another soft grounder, this one to third. Wright picks up the ball, looks Hosmer back and gets the second out at first. Hosmer breaks for home and Duda can’t make a perfect throw to the plate to get him. Two easy ground balls … BLOWN SAVE NUMBER THREE!

Three blown saves — only one of which can truly be hung on Familia. But there are no asterisks in the box score. And one of these days, when he’s negotiating a contract, some owner is going to note that he blew three saves in the World Series, AND THAT JUST AIN’T RIGHT!

The problem here is that, according to Rule 10.19 of the Official Rules of Major League Baseball:

The official scorer shall credit a pitcher with a save when such pitcher meets all four of the following conditions:

(a)  He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team;
(b)  He is not the winning pitcher;
(c)  He is credited with at least 1/3 of an inning pitched; and
(d)  He satisfies one of the following conditions:

(1)  He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning;
(2)  He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat or on deck (that is, the potential tying run is either already on base or is one of the first two batters he faces); or
(3)  He pitches for at least three innings.

So this means a pitcher can enter the game in the seventh inning with his team ahead 18-0, and he can give up 17 runs and load the bases before he gets the last out … AND HE GETS A SAVE!

But if a pitcher comes in with the bases loaded and nobody out with his team ahead by one run in the eighth inning, and he allows a routine ground ball that ties the game and then strikes out the next five batters … BLOWN SAVE.

That ain’t right.

So what’s the remedy? I think we need some sort of weighted system to merit a save or blown save, some sort of algorithm that can be devised by Bill James or somebody so that saves are assigned to pitchers who deserve them and blown saves aren’t assigned to pitchers who don’t. Something like number of outs remaining divided by number of men on base multiplied by the square root of the difficulty quotient of the position in the batting order (because it’s much harder to get the 3-4-5 hitters out than the 7-8-9) minus the time of day plus the speed of his curveball.

Or maybe you have a better idea.

But for the time being, I’m sticking with Jeurys Familia, three blown saves in the World Series be damned.

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