Despite New York Metsâ€™ manager Luis Rojas not naming as the official closer who will take every save opportunity available for the team, Edwin Diaz is going ahead with his spring preparations as if he is going to take the ball every time his team has a close lead.
And, to be fair, when all is said and done, that may be the case. Diaz is just too dominant not to be used as the everyday closer. In a team with Trevor May, Aaron Loup, Seth Lugo, Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances, and other talented arms, he is hands down the best reliever.
â€œEvery offseason, I prepare myself to be the closer of the team,â€ DÃaz said through an interpreter, according to Metsâ€™ beat writer for MLB.com Anthony DiComo. â€œI think last season was really important for me. I had a tremendous season last year. Iâ€™m not the one who makes the decisions, but I know my mindset and my preparation is to be the closer of this team.â€
And what a season he had in 2020. The Metsâ€™ righty had a 1.75 ERA, a 2.18 FIP, and a 2.29 xFIP in 25.2 frames, with an otherworldly 17.53 K/9. Thatâ€™s almost 18 punchouts for every nine innings pitched, which is insane.
His 2020 was far better than his 2019, in which he was heavily criticized for blowing saver after save and finishing with an ugly 5.59 ERA.
Metsâ€™ Diaz adjusted and it paid off
DÃaz said to the leagueâ€™s official page that his adjustments were subtle, as he returned to the mechanics that helped him put late movement on his pitches between 2016 and 2018.
â€œConsidering that I had such a good season, itâ€™s really about staying in the same routine, the same rhythm,â€ DÃaz said. â€œObviously, it was only 60 games, but those 60 games were competitive. It was a competitive season. And those games are competitive every single day. So I think itâ€™s about staying in the same rhythm and the same consistency to be able to have the same type of year 2021.â€
The Mets’ skipper has several weapons he can use in the ninth inning, and he has talked about the possibility of using a lefty if the order is lefty-heavy.
â€œThere are just so many scenarios in a game,â€ Rojas said while he clarified he prefers having the flexibility to use DÃaz in earlier innings if the situation is â€œhigher leverage.â€
â€œDiaz had a tremendous year — one of the best years for a reliever in the season, I thought,â€ Rojas continued. â€œThereâ€™s a lot of guys here that can pitch at the end of games. For me, Sugar â€¦ may be the guy that gets the most chances. We have high trust in him. The stuff is tremendous, electric. You see his numbers.â€