Edwin Diaz and the revamped Mets bullpen

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.

7 comments for “Edwin Diaz and the revamped Mets bullpen

  1. February 26, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Bullpen has one great reliever and two very good ones in Lugo and Familia while Wilson’s been solid crossover guy and his walk rate should go down getting away from a terrible framing. Avilan was a bargain as he dominates lefties. Gsellman needs to be better than last year as he was highly mediocre. I’m very interested in seeing Dowdy. Could be the best and deepest pen since 06

    • February 26, 2019 at 12:17 pm

      Getting away from a terrible framer like Contreras is what I meant to write.

  2. MattyMets
    February 26, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    Bullpen should easily be our biggest area of improvement. Will be nice to not give away so many games in the late and extra innings this year. As fans I think we’ll feel a lot more confident when the starter hands over the ball with a one- or two-run lead after 7 innings.

  3. TexasGusCC
    February 26, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    Difficult not to compare Alderson’s strategy on bullpen construction and BVW’s. While Alderson may not have had the money to get such a bullpen, its almost impossible to believe that he would part with Kelenic for any reliever out there.

    Further, last year the Mets bullpen suffered from the trade of Familia, Ramos’ injury and the over reliance on the kids traded for in August 2017 and the need to save face for the roster purge without taking on any money for better prospects.

    So, while BVW was more proactive than Alderson, certainly it would be hard for Alderson to get so many new bullpen pieces and still be able to say that the relievers he got in 2017 were good trades.

  4. TJ
    February 26, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    The Met pen has been an issue for most of the time in recent memory. Familia had his lights out moments, depth relative to other top teams has always been light.

    BVW paid a high price for Diaz/Cano, but than deal is done for better or worse. No athlete’s performance is automatic, but given the choice to pick one closer in baseball for 2019, I’d take Diaz, especially in a new league. So, it is nice to have a top notch weapon along with strong late inning alternatives to get them to the 9th. Of course, it doesn’t matter if they don’t score some more runs, but the expectation is that they’ll find a way to get that accomplished. I’m very bullish on the run prevention side.

    • MattyMets
      February 27, 2019 at 10:10 am

      TJ – the Mets bullpen stunk last year because the injury to Ramos, the mid season trade of Familia and the off year from Blevins was too much to overcome. It wasn’t that long ago that we had Addison Reed setting up an effective and healthy Familia with an effective Blevins and others in the mix. I’m not suggesting bullpen was the only problem the last year or two but the Mets rode to the playoffs with that group.

      • TJ
        February 27, 2019 at 12:01 pm

        Matt,
        Yes, Familia/Reed was lights out but that was for a very brief time, say a year and change. The overall majority of time the pen has been shaky, with way too many innings, and high leverage innings, have been tossed by subpar and below replacement level players. Is see both more quality and more depth now than I can remember. Bashlor and Smith have good potential and will likely not make the team. These are the concern of good teams.

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