Bases loaded, no one out. Kris Bryant on deck.

That was the situation New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia faced Tuesday night, with his team was clinging to a 2-1 lead over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

OPINION: Jeurys Familia Is Best Closer In Baseball

Pinch-hitter Matt Szczur grounded to Mets first baseman James Loney, who threw home to get the force out. One down.

Bryant stepped to the plate, with his 25 home runs and budding superstar smile, and Familia quickly dispatched the 2015 Rookie of the Year, inducing a ground ball for a double play to end the game.


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“I just always try to calm down when I have situations like that — bases loaded, no out,” Familia said postgame. “I try to throw my sinker down, make sure if they make contact it’s a ground ball, and believe in myself.

It wasn’t the first time Familia had found himself in such a bind.

Just a couple weeks earlier, at Citi Field, the Cubs had the bases juiced with no outs in the top of the ninth inning, but New York’s closer found a way to wiggle himself out of that one too.


And it was Bryant who made the final out, striking out on Familia’s sinker, a pitch that is picking up momentum with every appearance.

Dating back to last season, the day before the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes to be exact, Familia has converted 49 regular season save opportunities. He currently stands tied for fourth all-time in consecutive saves, two behind Jose Valverde for third (51), and 25 behind Eric Gange, who strung together 84 saves in a row.

But because he pitches to contact, Familia is often overlooked when discussing the most dominant closers in Major League Baseball.

Sure, he will walk some guys, and allow some baserunners, but when you need to close the door, Familia is there with his hand on the knob, already turned.

Just ask Mets Manager Terry Collins.

“A couple of years ago, he would have walked the next guy,” Collins said of his closer’s effort against the Cubs. “He would have backed off the fastball. Right now, he’s like, ‘Hey, I know how to do this. I know how to get out of these tight jams.’ He went back and went to work.”

A couple years ago, the Mets wouldn’t have imagined Familia in a closer’s role.

Up until 2012 he pitched exclusively as a starter in New York’s farm system.

And like another starter-turned-closer who played in New York, he condensed his repertoire, focusing almost exclusively on that heavy sinker to coax hitter to drive the ball into the ground.

It is important to note that Familia blew three saves in the World Series last year, a new record, including the deciding Game 5.


But it is just as important to make mention of the fact that Famila was a rookie closer, pitching in the World Series, for a team that hadn’t won a pennant in 15 years.

Now, he is the best closer in baseball.

Florida Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos is the next closest. But just to demonstrate the gap between the two N.L. East foes, Ramos has slightly better numbers in terms of ERA and WHIP, but he’s blown six saves over the course of Familia’s consecutive save streak.

Since the outset of last season Ramos has saved 68 games. Over the same span, Familia has saved 81, more than any other pitcher in the big leagues.

And I don’t want to hear about Aroldis Chapman.

Chapman has the most electric stuff I’ve ever seen, or anyone has ever seen, really.

Buts as exciting as it is to watch him thrown 105 MPH, it’s equally disheartening when he can’t get it over the plate.

This is not a question of what closer has the best stuff, it’s about who is the best closer in baseball.

Look at the numbers, then watch him work on the mound.

Familia is no soft-tosser, he is consistently in the mid-to-upper 90s. But his sinker falls off the table quicker than Fausto Carmona changes his name. (I thought his sinker was the best I’d ever seen until Familia.)

Mariano Rivera made a Hall of Fame career from one pitch.

Yes, Mo struck plenty of guys out, but the beauty of the cutter was that it tied everyone up, forcing them to miss the barrel, either getting jammed, or grounding out weekly.

Familia has had a similar effect in his two years as a closer.

And that’s why he gets outs. He strikes guys out too, but his ability to pitch to contact allows him the freedom to pile up baserunners before quickly dispatching would-be heroes.

“Nobody is more frustrated that he gets in those situations than he is, but he’s a special guy,” Collins said, adding, “That’s why I think he’s as good as there is in baseball.”

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