Diaz spent the offseason gaining a better understanding of his delivery in an effort to reduce the mechanical issues that hampered him last season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports.
A breakout 2016 campaign had the young reliever primed to be Seattle's closer heading into the 2017. However, first-half struggles and control problems led to him being demoted from ninth-inning duties for a portion of the season. He still finished with 34 saves and a respectable 3.27 ERA, but Diaz wants to prove he's for real this season. After the tumultuous 2017 campaign, he came into camp with some throwing sessions already under his belt and a new mentality on the mound. During an early bullpen session, Diaz noted "when I missed a couple pitches, I refocused my mind and made the adjustment." Diaz is lined up to be the Mariners' closer once again, and if he can make quick adjustments like this during the regular season, he could be even more dominant in his second full big-league season.
Diaz has been working on adding a changeup to his arsenal during spring training, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports.
Diaz notched 34 saves this past season but saw his walk rate (11.5 percent) and FIP (4.02) balloon from the year prior. The 23-year-old utilized a two-pitch arsenal -- including a fourseam fastball and slider -- but has reportedly been looking to add an off-speed pitch to his repertoire. General manager Jerry Dipoto recently stated that Diaz's first few bullpen sessions have been "electric" and that his command appears much improved thus far. Lowering his walk rate back into the single-digit range would go a long way towards cementing Diaz as on the the league's preeminent closers.
Diaz struck out two batters over 1.1 innings and earned his 34th save of the year in Saturday's 6-4 victory over the Angels.
After blowing a save Friday, his first since July 22, Diaz had a strong performance and didn't allow a baserunner in the time it took him to close out Saturday's game. Having fanned 89 batters over 66 innings, Diaz has been a solid source of strikeouts this season. However, his lack of control has been an issue, as he's walked 32 batters and surrendered 10 home runs in that time as well.
Diaz struck out two in a perfect ninth inning Tuesday to notch his 33rd save of the season in a 6-3 win over the A's.
He's had his struggles this season, but Diaz now hasn't blown a save since late July, converting his last 15 opportunities. The 23-year-old's 12.0 K/9 this year is elite, but he'll need to improve on his 4.5 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9 if he's going to take another step forward in 2018.
Diaz fired a scoreless ninth inning in Wednesday's 8-6 loss to the Rangers, allowing one hit.
Manager Scott Servais opted to give Diaz some work after he'd last taken the mound Sept. 13. The 23-year-old right-hander has only had one hiccup this month, a Sept. 6 outing versus the Astros in which he surrendered two earned runs over an inning while taking his sixth loss ot the season. Diaz has largely fulfilled expectations overall in his first full-time campaign as closer, converting 32 of 36 save opportunities while racking up 84 strikeouts over 62.1 innings.
|10/1/2017 vs Los Angeles|
|vs Los Angeles||6.2||0||2||10.80||4||6||12|
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