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By the end of the 2018 season, Edwin Diaz had firmly established himself as one of the best closers in all of Major League Baseball.
Then just 24 years old, Diaz led the MLB in saves (57) while also boasting a 1.96 ERA and 15.2 K/9. With a dynamic fastball and a wipeout slider, Diaz seemed primed to dominate opposing hitters for years to come. At least, that is what the New York mets believed when they traded for him last winter.
Unfortunately for the Mets, Diaz took a big step back in 2019. He posted a 5.59 ERA and seven blown saves in 58 innings of work, eventually ceding the closer role to Seth Lugo.
Still, Diaz believes that he can get back to the elite level that he was at with the Seattle Mariners (via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com):
“Just because I’ve had one bad season, doesn’t mean I’m a bad pitcher,” Díaz said through an interpreter in late September, “especially when I’ve had three great seasons in Seattle. The fourth one went bad, but you just have to continue working so you can get back to that level.”
Diaz also asserted that his ability to reestablish the slider will be crucial to his success next year:
“For sure, the slider’s the most important pitch,” Díaz said. “My goal is to get that back to what it has been in years past. I’ve always said the fastball, anyone can hit the fastball. That’s a pitch about location. But the slider, that’s the main goal just to get that right again so I can be effective.”
Opponents hit close to .300 with a .622 slugging percentage off of Diaz’s slider last season.
It is also worth mentioning that former Mets manager Mickey Callaway was criticized for his handling of Diaz last season after using him for multiple-inning saves.