Edwin Diaz’s rebound season on the mound in 2020 has allowed him to be trusted and firmly entrenched as the New York Mets closer going into 2021.
The New York Mets may have some question marks on the roster going into this offseason, but one of the glaring question marks from the last offseason in Edwin Diaz has firmly secured the closer’s job in 2021. Diaz remarkable turnaround from his disastrous season in 2019 has allowed the organization and fans to take a giant sigh of relief as there should no longer be any question marks on who will be closing games for the Mets next season, and it can allow the Mets to build around Diaz this offseason, rather than build competition for him.
Diaz finished the abbreviated 2020 campaign with a 1.75 ERA in 25.2 innings pitched to go along with six saves this season. Diaz also struck out a career-best 17.53 batters per nine innings while also cutting down on allowing the long ball with a shiny number of 0.70 home runs per nine innings, which is the second-lowest number of his career.
The reason you may ask for the higher strikeout totals and allowing fewer home runs this season? Diaz pure stuff looked electric coming out of his hand this season and we all witnessed the closer we originally thought we were receiving from Seattle back in 2018. Don’t forget that the 26-year old Diaz worked as hard as anybody in baseball this past offseason to right himself and even spent time working with legendary pitcher Pedro Martinez making adjustments to his slider.
Working on his slider paid dividends for Diaz as he threw it 37.9% of the time this season which is the most he’s thrown it in a given season during his entire career, and hitters were unable to catch up to it as batters only hit .143 against Diaz slider this season. To put that in perspective hitters were hitting .297 against Diaz slider last season and took him deep six times on that pitch.
Diaz’s improved four-seam fastball location also contributed to his success on the mound this season as his fastball always seemed to hang right over the middle of the plate last season. When I was watching Diaz pitch this season it seemed that he had better movement and location with his fastball in and around the plate than he had last season.
If you needed any more evidence that Diaz has locked down the closer position look no further than his .182 batting average that hitters had against him in high leverage situations this season. Last season Diaz largely struggled to the tune of a .306 batting average against him in high leverage situations.
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Plain and simple Edwin Diaz is part of the solution for the Mets moving forward and he is no longer considered one of the problems that need solving. The organization can now move forward in 2021 with a solidified closer that will allow the team to compete for the National League title while also being assured that they may have gotten Diaz back into form as one of the premier closers in baseball.