With a 5.59 ERA and seven blown saves, the New York Mets‘ closer Edwin Diaz knows his 2019 was bad. The team’s bullpen blew lots of leads and games, and he was one of the main culprits. However, he is not going to let his down year haunt him this time around.
The Puerto Rican worked his ass off in the offseason with the help of all-time great Pedro Martinez. And, although new manager Luis Rojas hasn’t officialized it, he looks poised to reclaim his closer role.
“Once last season ended, that was last season,” Diaz told SNY’s Steve Gelbs. “So what I did, I took the positives from that season, I brought that with me, left all the negative in the back and I just try to continue to stay positive and I put a lot of work in to have a good season this year.”
Diaz made physical, mechanical and mental changes in his approach.
“I was able to make adjustments to my mechanics — that’s really what I was really focusing on,” Diaz told Gelbs. “I took a short vacation right after the season with my family, and right after that, I started to really got into a lot of work with my mechanics, with my body — mentally, physically — just so I could come in this spring and feeling like I was really ready to go.”
Cleaning up his delivery to reclaim his role as Mets’ closer
Basically, with the help of Pedro, he cleaned his delivery. “There weren’t very significant changes. It was about trying to release the ball in front of me and working on my release point because there were things in my mechanics that were fine, but there were just little tweaks Pedro told me about it. Also, the pitching coaches told me. So it wasn’t anything too signifcant, but there were things to work on.”
Working with Martinez, a former New York Mets’ pitcher himself, was a blessing for him. “I’ve known Pedro since I debuted in 2016 — he wanted to meet me, so we ended up meeting. And once we actually started working, another guy that I was working with was a guy that Pedro worked with while he was with the (Montreal) Expos (1994-97), with the (Los Angeles) Dodgers (1992-92), with the (Boston) Red Sox (1998-04). So we were kind of able to get into that communication. We would send each other videos, stay in constant communication so we could actually get things going.”
The mental part is also poised to improve. “My confidence this year is at 100 percent. And my confidence last year, despite having a bad season, it never really wavered because I know the type of pitcher that I am. But knowing the way that I prepared this offseason, and knowing everything I did to be a better pitcher, I think you guys are going to see the Edwin Diaz that you waited for.” The Mets surely want that to happen.