Diaz will lead all closers in HR/9
While I’m projecting a bounceback season, some things will remain constant. Díaz had the highest HR/9 rate in the majors last season and his HR/FB% spiked all the way to 26.8%, as compared to a mere 10.6% the previous season with the Mariners.
In a season where 57 major league players hit at least 30 home runs, it is not surprising that Díaz was torched by the “juiced ball” era.
It is doubtful that baseball will see another record-shattering spike in home runs for 2020. That being said, Díaz has done little to prove that he can keep the ball inside the park this coming season.
Among relief pitchers who are predominantly closers, Diaz will likely allow the most home runs once again in 2020.
A key to surviving this is to avoid giving up more than solo shots. Reducing walks, avoiding cheap hits, and making mistakes early in the inning are essential for Diaz to overcome this.
Surrendering home runs is nothing new to Diaz. Back in 2017, he averaged 1.4 home runs against per nine innings. Although far from what he got punished with in 2019, it was a hint of how many meatballs he would throw.
Despite the high number, Diaz still finished the year with a 3.27 ERA.
Plenty of talented pitchers can make it through a year getting punished by home runs. Diaz may need a little bit of help from his Mets teammates. The bigger the lead when he steps on the mound, the better for him and the team at overcoming this weakness.