Mets closer Jeurys Familia has been diagnosed with an “arterial clot” in his right shoulder, per a club announcement. He’ll head for a visit with Dr. Robert Thompson, with a surgical option considered possible.
Obviously, we don’t yet know whether surgery is likely. But it seems squarely on the table given that the team noted that possibility in the announcement — a rather unusual step when the treatment course has yet to be finalized. Dr. Thompson, a noted expert in thoracic outlet syndrome and other vascular issues, recently operated on Mets starter Matt Harvey, as Anthony DiComo of MLB.com notes on Twitter.
Familia, 27, has exhibited worrying walk issues since being activated from a suspension to start the year. Over 9 1/3 frames, he has issued eight free passes. On the other hand, he’s working in the zone at a rate (41.1%) that’s nearly identical to his career average, so it isn’t as if he’s just constantly wild. In addition to the walks, though, Familia is showing a drop in swinging strikes while drawing less chases on ball out of the zone, perhaps suggesting he’s struggling to hit his spots.
The results have generally been plenty acceptable, at least until last night’s (fielding-error-aided) meltdown. Before coughing up three earned runs while recording just a single out yesterday, Familia had allowed only one earned run on five hits through his nine frames on the season. And his average fastball velocity sits at or above his career levels (97.2 mph average four-seamer; 96.5 mph average sinker).
Whatever the precise issues, we’ll now wait to hear just how long an absence the club expects. At least some absence seems all but a foregone conclusion, with surgery potential requiring a lengthy layoff. The Mets can scarcely afford to lose Familia for a long stretch — especially with other key players already shelved on the DL. Addison Reed does represent about as good a replacement option as could be hoped for in the closer’s role, though the club will nonetheless be without a premium relief arm at the back of the bullpen for whatever stretch Familia is out.