New Mets closer Edwin Diaz is perhaps the most intriguing addition to the Mets for this season, and maybe in several years. Last year the Mets bullpen was near the bottom of MLB in performance, this year with Diaz and some other additions the relief corps could be among the best.
Diaz is young, he will turn 25 just before the season starts. He has pitched three years in MLB, all with Seattle, and he became the closer in his rookie year. His performance steadily improved each year, culminating with his monster 2018 season in which he won the AL Reliever of the Year Award as well as making the AL All-Star team.
Let’s look at what Diaz accomplished last year for the Mariners. In 73 games he pitched 73.1 innings and racked up 57 saves to lead MLB. He also led MLB in games finished, with 65. His ERA was 1.96, and FIP was 1.61. You’ll almost need a microscope to see his WHIP figure of 0.791 for the season.
Diaz is a classic power reliever who chalks up a lot of strikeouts. In 2018 he had an impressive 124 strikeouts, which yields a K/9 ratio of 15.2. Diaz not only strikes ‘em out, he has pretty good control. In all of 2018 he surrendered 17 walks, a ratio of 2.6/9 IP.
Diaz, up to this point in his career, is primarily a two pitch pitcher, a fastball and a slider. According to FanGraphs he went to his fastball 62.4% of his pitches last year, with 37.3 % sliders thrown. He did throw a changeup, but very rarely, only 0.2 % of the time. As he ages he may need to master that changeup more and use it more, for the time when his velocity inevitably declines and he’ll need to add another pitch to his arsenal.
Speaking of velocity, his average fastball speed was 97.9 MPH last year, and that wipeout slider was measured at 89.7 MPH. Diaz does not have the typical imposing body of many hard-throwing strikeout pitchers. He is listed as 6-3 and 165 pounds, making for a slender frame. Despite being skinny he has good endurance, for example last year the Mariners played an important August series with the Astros, and Seattle swept all four games, with Diaz closing each game to earn four saves.
The Mets have two key returnees from the 2018 bullpen in Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, both capable of multi inning roles. In the offseason lefty Justin Wilson was signed, as was long-time Met Jeurys Familia, who is slated for the 8th inning setup man role. With Diaz and his electric stuff leading this newly bolstered relief corps, the Mets should make a big turn around from their underperforming 2018 bull pen production.