After Edwin Diaz‘s disappointing first season with the New York Mets, he came out with something to prove in 2020. Despite pitching without fans in attendance, Diaz had to prove he could live up to the out of world expectations he came into 2019 with. Diaz was every bit as good as advertised once he got settled in during the shortened season.
Edwin Diaz, 97mph Fastball (called strike) and 89mph Slider (Swinging K), Individual Pitches + Overlay. pic.twitter.com/mIH7AsbBq4
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 7, 2020
After Diaz secured his first save of the season, he followed it up with a blown save the following day. It immediately caused panic, and it grew when he looked even worse in his third game of the season. Diaz only recorded one out and looked completely lost with his control. It looked like the same Diaz from 2019 was alive and well.
Flip The Calendar
Whether Jeremy Hefner was the fixer is still a question, but once August rolled around, Diaz found himself. In 23 outings for the rest of the season, Diaz was scored upon in only three of them. The home run killed Diaz in 2019, and he only gave up two in the entire 2020 campaign.
Diaz regained his closer role and was just as electric as he was back in 2018. This version of Diaz was more mature, confident, and learned how to stop an outing from becoming catastrophic. In September, Diaz allowed one run in 11.2 innings, struck out 20, and held batters to just a .128 batting average.
What’s The Difference?
The biggest difference between 2019 and 2020 was the pitch location from Diaz. Despite having wipeout stuff, when Diaz would leave it up in the zone, it made it easy for hitters to tee off. A perfect example was the Marcell Ozuna home run from the second game of the season. Diaz threw a fastball off the outside corner, but it made it easier for Ozuna to drive it over the right-field fence since it was belt high.
Diaz got back to pinpointing his slider on the low, outside corner to righties and throwing it out of the zone when needed. His slider’s revival led it to have a 57% whiff rate and dramatically lower the slugging percentage against it from .622 to .167. Diaz had the best K rate (45.9%) in the game and the lowest average exit velocity in his career.
Overall, Diaz better than the entire Mets bullpen combined. He left almost 90% of runners on base, had a 2.18 FIP, and had a home run rate on par with his 2018 season. Diaz had a 1.75 ERA, six saves and an outstanding 50 strikeouts in just 25.2 innings pitched. The Mets have Diaz for two more years, and it will be exciting to see him produce in a full 162 game season.
2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)
4-Seam Fastball: 70 (70), Thrown 61% of the time, and once Diaz learned how to harness its horizontal movement, it returned to greatness.
Slider: 80 (80), Higher whiff% than in his 2018 season.
Sinker: 50 (N/A), Only threw five of them, but they looked like 4-Seamers with extra break.
Cutter: 20 (N/A), It was a spiked slider; baseball savant tracks things weird.
Changeup: 30 (35), Diaz threw it to Freddie Freeman in the first game of the season. I actually liked the pitch, but Diaz avoided using it for the rest of the season. I hope he brings it back in 2021.
Overall: 75 (75), The sky is the limit for Diaz. As always, he will play a major role in the potential World Series success of the 2021 Mets.