Before the start of the 2019 season, then Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen traded for closer Edwin Diaz and second baseman Robinson Cano. Although Van Wagenen traded the Mets best prospect in Jarred Kelenic, Diaz was the best closer in baseball in 2018 with 56 saves and a 1.96 ERA. Heading into his first season in New York, Diaz hoped to continue his success at the closer position. He certainly did not.
In just the span of a year, Edwin Diaz went from one of the game’s best closers to one of the game’s worst. 2019 saw Diaz have an ERA of 5.59, seven blown saves, and fifteen home runs were given up throughout the season. What a disaster.
Two of these blown saves were when the Mets were up by three and seven runs heading into the ninth. Yes, you read that correctly. The Mets lost a game when they were up by seven heading into the ninth inning. I personally saw that game against the Washington Nationals when Edwin Diaz couldn’t stop a water leak let alone a Major League Ball Club.
I remember just standing in there in shock. The Mets just blew a seven-run lead in a game they absolutely needed to win to stay in the playoff race. It was the most shocking game I had ever seen as a sports fan. But I guess that’s what happens when you watch a team such as the New York Mets.
The Beginning of a Comeback
The 2020 MLB Season was odd, to say the least. Teams only played 60 games, there were cardboard cutouts in the stands and Edwin Diaz looked like a competent reliever. It might not seem odd now heading into 2021 but if you watched Diaz pitch in 2019, you were in awe of his turnaround.
At first, Diaz picked up right where he left off in 2019. In only the second game of the season, he had a blown save in the bottom of the ninth inning with a 3-2 count with two outs. The world may be in shambles but at least one thing was still normal; Edwin Diaz blowing saves.
As the season went along, Diaz quietly put together a stellar 2020 campaign. He had a 1.75 ERA, 50 strikeouts, and six saves through ten opportunities. While shutting the door on 60% of save opportunities isn’t extremely impressive, Diaz looked like the guy the Mets thought they were getting when they acquired him from Seattle. His trademark slider wasn’t being bombed into the third deck; hitters were swinging right through it. He wasn’t putting his head down or sulking in shame; he was loud and proud. Edwin Diaz was finally playing to his potential.
Impressive Spring Training
The New York Mets are entering a new era this year. They have a new owner and are forming a reputation as an organization that is willing to go out and invest in creating a World Series contender. Mets fans also hope that a start of a new era could bring the renaissance of Edwin Diaz.
So far, Mets fans have their wish. Diaz has been stellar in his Spring Training appearances, giving up no runs in three outings. Very impressive. Yes, it’s only Spring Training but Diaz looks like he’s finally 100% back to form. His slider looks better than ever and his command is locked in. Even though the Mets are saying that the closer role is up for grabs, so far it’s been Edwin Diaz’s to lose; and he might just run away with it.
Will we see 2019 Diaz or Seattle Diaz?
The 2021 season will be the most important of Edwin Diaz’s career. He has an opportunity to show the baseball world that last year wasn’t a fluke. That the real Edwin Diaz is back.
Can one predict if Diaz will perform in 2021? Not exactly. But personally, I think that Edwin Diaz will be superb for the New York Mets this year and will be one of baseball’s most dominant relievers. Up there with the likes of Aroldis Chapman and Josh Hader.