NY Mets will live or die by the arm of closer Edwin Diaz
By Tim Boyle
Is there a player on the New York Mets roster that has split fans more than closer Edwin Diaz? We’ve seen all sides of this once elite-level closer since he arrived in Flushing in 2019. His debut season was horrendous followed up by a star-caliber one in 2020 and now we’re watching on as he either sinks to the bottom of the ocean or swims ashore.
Labor Day was supposed to be a nice afternoon Mets game with the team closing out a five-game series versus the Washington Nationals. Already winning three of the first four, this was a chance for them to push ahead two games above .500 and make up some ground in the National League East.
That wouldn’t be the story in this one.
Edwin Diaz blew a costly opportunity for the Mets
The Mets went into the bottom of the ninth inning with only a 3-2 lead. Things had been going so well in the last week. They only dropped a single game, the latter part of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Closing out the five-game series with a win would have set the club up nicely as they head to take on the Miami Marlins for three more. Unfortunately, the team’s closer had other ideas.
Diaz is now 28 for 34 in save opportunities. His ERA has jumped up to 3.93. This isn’t such an ugly number for a middle reliever. For a closer, I think you want it somewhere below 3.00 in order to have any faith in him whatsoever.
Perhaps worst of all, this is Diaz’s second straight blown save. Back in July, he blew three straight before getting back on track and actually putting together a nice stretch through all of August—a month where save opportunities were far fewer but he was successful with all four chances.
September is not a good time for a team to start questioning their closer. Mid-year, you can look at the trade market or maybe even shuffle a few pieces around. Less than a month of baseball to go means riding with your closer or demoting him while promoting another player. The Mets definitely have a couple of candidates who could close for them. Jeurys Familia has pitched well in 2021 and has plenty of experience in the role. Trevor May would probably be the more likely choice given how the Mets have used him.
In addition to those two, the Mets could always consider the amazing Aaron Loup or possibly newcomer Brad Hand. Hand didn’t sign with the Mets this offseason because of his desire to close. Now with the club, I’m not so sure we have enough time to build up trust with the coaching staff to put him in that role.
Thinking back to the 2019 season, the Mets were troubled by Diaz’s performance. He only picked up two saves after July 31 while spending most of those final two months in a setup role. Had he been able to deliver cleaner innings for them, the phrase “playoff drought” might be an exaggeration when discussing this team.
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The Mets won’t have a chance to pull the ripcord and experiment with the ninth inning. Now just a single blown save away from matching his 2019 total, we’re going to have to learn the hard way whether or not this man can pitch in big games.