How Mets closer Edwin Diaz could be affected by a shortened 2020 season

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 11: Edwin Diaz #39 of the New York Mets in action against the St. Louis Cardinals during a spring training baseball game at Clover Park at on March 11, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 11: Edwin Diaz #39 of the New York Mets in action against the St. Louis Cardinals during a spring training baseball game at Clover Park at on March 11, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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A shortened 2020 season will have an effect on all Major League Baseball players. For New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz, it could allow him the chance to have an extremely good or bad year.

Major League Baseball is expected to resume at some point in 2020 with an abbreviated schedule. Everyone who wears a uniform and owns a pair of cleats is affected in their own ways. New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz is one of those hundreds of men.

Diaz enters 2020 at an important crossroads. Last year’s debacle made him public enemy number one in Flushing. His ability to blow saves on such a regular basis damaged his personal reputation as a ballplayer and did a great amount of damage to the team’s playoff hopes.

In a shortened year, many players will either benefit from missing out on those dog days of summer when everything seems to go wrong. Others, meanwhile, may never have enough time to kick things into gear. Slow starters may have career-worst campaigns while guys who tend to tire out quickly may find the same results. The opposite is true, too.

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For a guy who pitches maybe three times a week and just an inning each time, what could a shortened season mean?

In Diaz’s case, it seems a lot of what went wrong in 2019 was a mix of mental and physical. We’ve heard plenty about him working on his mechanics over the winter. During spring training, it was a topic brought up often.

The MLB stoppage put a hold to any progress Diaz may have made—although that doesn’t mean he’s not continuing to find ways to improve. We’ll have to assume no matter when baseball starts again, he’ll be right where he needs to be. Will he be ready for a bounceback season?

The trouble with Diaz is he won’t have the time to fix the mistakes in-season. Over the course of a regular 162-game schedule, there’s room for improvement. One bad appearance doesn’t ruin a season.

It will still be true in a shortened season. However, every game matters a whole lot more.

The opposite is true as well. Diaz won’t have as long to revert back to any mistakes he may have made in 2019. Opposing teams won’t have time to adjust or figure out what the kid managed to learn over the long winter. Diaz could conceivably cruise through the 2020 MLB season looking much like he did in 2018 as a member of the Seattle Mariners: utterly dominant.

It’s going to be a weird year for baseball. Whether it’s 80, 100, or some other number of games played statistics will be skewed. Nobody will have the benefit of the usual grind.

In thinking about Diaz, I tend to lean in favor of him shutting down hitters as opposed to a repeat of 2019. He can be deceptive and dominant immediately. Hitters often have to catch up to pitchers in a typical season.

That’s not to say there will be any guarantee of this. A part of why pitchers typically do well early and hitters may struggle also has to do with the weather. By the time baseball resumes, the heat will have arrived.

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Mets fans will just have to hope Diaz brings even more heat. And maybe he can carry into the season a few other tricks to leave batters wishing they could see the 2019 version of him again.