Diaz compiled a 6.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 1:0 K:BB through three innings before spring training was suspended. While the numbers weren't anything to write home about, Diaz's velocity was good and he at least kept the ball in the park -- something he had trouble doing in 2019, when he stumbled to a 2.33 HR/9 across 58 innings. The 26-year-old is only two years removed from being the most valuable closer in the game and will head into the season handling ninth-inning duties for the Mets, but Diaz will need to rediscover his command to return to elite status.
Diaz gave up two runs on three hits in an inning of work Wednesday against the Astros, Mike Puma of The New York Post reports. While his fastball was topping out at 98 mph, Diaz wasn't able to put it where he wanted within the strike zone -- the same issue that marred his 2019 campaign. "I felt good out there," he said through an interpreter after the outing. "A little bit anxious because it was the first time being out there in a real game and facing real batters, but other than that I felt really good." Diaz needed 25 pitches to escape the inning, so he at least got his work in, but the 25-year-old will need to tighten his command before Opening Day if he wants to avoid being on the hot seat as the Mets' closer right out of the gate.
Diaz and the Mets avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $5.1 million deal Friday, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports. Diaz wasn't the player the Mets thought they traded for last season, as he struggled to a 5.59 ERA in 58 innings. His 39.0 percent strikeout remained excellent, however, and his 8.7 percent walk rate was only slightly worse than average. His big problem was the home run ball, as he gave up 2.3 HR/9, well above his 0.6 HR/9 mark from the season prior. He should still have the closing role heading into the upcoming season but won't have a particularly firm grasp on it should his struggles continue.
Diaz earned the save Saturday against the Braves by recording two strikeouts and not allowing a baserunner during the ninth inning. Diaz had a stretch of 15 appearances without a save as Seth Lugo took over as the primary closer -- though he blew two save chances in that stretch -- but Diaz perhaps ended the season on a positive note after needing only 10 pitches Saturday. The 25-year-old has pitched two of the past three days and may have made his last outing of the season. Diaz's first season in New York has not gone according to plan with a 5.59 ERA and 1.38 WHIP while he's converted 26 of 33 save opportunities.
Diaz (1-7) allowed two earned runs on two hits without recording an out to blow the save and take the loss Tuesday against the Nationals. Diaz was hardly the only contributor to the epic collapse of the Mets' bullpen in the ninth inning when the team surrendered seven runs to the Nationals. However, the last five runs crossed the plate with Diaz on the mound, capped by a three-run homer by Kurt Suzuki. Though he had put together scoreless outings in seven of his last eight appearances prior to Tuesday's outing, it's difficult to imagine the Mets turning to him in many save situations to conclude the season given Seth Lugo's superior performance this season.
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