If the Mets are going to maximise their potential and break their three-yr playoff drought in 2020, odds are they’ll want a bounce-again effort from proper-handed reliever Edwin Diaz. It’s nonetheless robust to imagine how little the Mets bought final yr from Diaz, whom they acquired in December 2018 in what now appears like a regrettable blockbuster with the Mariners.
Diaz concluded his three-season Seattle tenure in epic trend previous to the commerce, handing over one of many best years a reliever has ever recorded. He collected 57 saves on 61 tries and logged a 1.96 ERA/1.61 FIP with 15.22 Okay/9 and a couple of.09 BB/9 in 73 1/three innings en path to AL Reliever of the Year honors. The Mets absolutely anticipated Diaz to compete for the NL model of that award final season. No cube.
Diaz wound up rating among the many majors’ worst at stopping runs in his first yr with the Mets, as he completed seventh final out of 158 certified relievers in ERA (5.59) and nicely under common in FIP (4.51). The .377 batting common on balls in play hitters registered in opposition to Diaz had a hand in his sudden ineffectiveness, although he can’t merely be let off the hook for that. After all, somebody who was so dominant simply the yr earlier than (and excellent within the prior two seasons) may now not appear to maintain significant contact at bay.
Thanks partially to noticeable decreases in groundball proportion and infield fly price, Diaz’s arduous contact jumped by 18.eight % from 2018, in response to FanGraphs. He ended up within the league’s second percentile in arduous-hit proportion and its 11th percentile in common exit velocity in opposition to, per Statcast. His slider – a pitch that embarrassed hitters earlier than – was battered to the tune of a .387 weighted on-base common, serving to result in a whopping 16 % improve in residence runs. Many pitchers gave up extra HRs than ordinary throughout an influence-joyful 2019, however most didn’t so to that extent.
Despite all of that, the 26-year-previous Diaz shouldn’t be counted out simply but. He did present some constructive indicators final season, imagine it or not. Diaz misplaced nothing on his fastball, a pitch that has averaged 97.three mph in every of his main league seasons. His strikeouts and swinging strikes dropped from his dream ’18 effort, whereas his stroll price rose, however he was nonetheless far above common within the first two classes and satisfactory within the third. In truth, his strikeout price (39 %; 15.38 per 9) ranked within the league’s 99th percentile, and he completed fifth amongst relievers in swinging strikes (18 %). And it appears Diaz did deserve higher when he threw his slider, evidenced by a .272 anticipated wOBA in opposition to the pitch.
None of that is to say Diaz will ever return to his very best type, however he does nonetheless appear to have what it takes to achieve the bigs. Even if he does, the Diaz/Robinson Cano commerce (the latter has additionally struggled up to now) in all probability received’t go down as a constructive for the Mets. But if Diaz may also help stabilize the again finish of New York’s bullpen and support in a return to the playoffs, that will ease the ache to some extent.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.