Edwin Diaz has had a superb season for the New York Mets but without the high save totals, some fans may never accept him as the closer.
In case you didn’t know, Edwin Diaz has some fantastic numbers in 2020. Through his first 19 appearances, the New York Mets reliever has gone 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA. He’s fanning the opponent at a rate of 18.5 per nine which is just ridiculous when you think about it.
However, despite these impressive numbers and more, many are still not convinced he is a good pitcher. And those who are in denial about this can’t be blamed. Diaz has only three saves this year which is a result of a few factors. The only one that we can blame him for is the fact that the team didn’t trust him earlier this season and handed three saves over to Seth Lugo.
Saves are to relief pitchers as wins are to starting pitchers. A great closer may not have as many opportunities just like a Cy Young-winning pitcher may not win as many games as a mediocre pitcher on a good team.
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Nevertheless, when we look at closers, we look at how many saves they are able to rack up. Diaz should have a chance to accumulate more before season’s end. Those who mistrust him will need a lot more to believe he’s the best option for the ninth inning moving forward.
In this shortened 2020 season, a lot of what has happened feels like an epilogue to the 2019 season. We’re getting far fewer games and the same feelings we had about players last year seem to have carried over into this one.
Diaz is pitching well but many still aren’t convinced. The same can be said about Jeurys Familia. Some also hate to see the presence of Robinson Cano in the lineup despite his wonderful comeback.
Fans who remain unhappy with Diaz seem to point to the fact that he struggles when the game is on the line. This isn’t entirely true. In high-leverage situations, batters are hitting .174 against him. However, batters do own a .345 OBP against him in these same situations due to the high percentage of walks against him in those situations.
Diaz’s numbers in 2020 are hard to pinpoint when trying to figure out where he’s at his best or worst. His highest batting average against is in the eighth inning at .263. Somehow, he has escaped without allowed a single earned run in those 4.1 frames. As the ninth inning man, he has a 2.38 ERA and a much better .190 batting average against.
Sample size is everything for a relief pitcher and Diaz just doesn’t have enough of it to convince me either way what the heck the Mets should do with him. Because of their limited options for the ninth, I guess he’s the closer whether fans like it or not.
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And for some, it’s impossible to ever convince them to accept Brodie Van Wagenen’s biggest trade may not have been as terrible as once believed.