6:04pm: Diaz remains the Mets’ closer for now, Callaway announced Saturday (via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com).
In the span of five batters in the top of the ninth inning last night against the Phillies, Mets closer Edwin Diaz unraveled once again. The half inning provided a microcosm of the season thus far for the moribund Mets. Diaz walked a batter and surrendered three hits, Wilson Ramos gave away an extra base with a throwing error, and the Mets past mistakes came back to haunt them once again – this time in the form of Jay Bruce, who singled in the go-ahead run before being lifted for a pinch-runner.
Mickey Callaway has little choice but to consider removing Diaz from the closer role. Diaz now carries a 5.67 ERA, a far cry from the 1.96 ERA he put together last year en route to 57 saves for the Mariners. The situation is further pressurized by the prospects whom the Mets surrendered for Diaz, who continue to climb up prospects boards as they near their new futures in Seattle. Robinson Cano, either the tax in the deal or Diaz’s sidekick, depending on your perspective, hasn’t helped matters either. Hampered by injuries, Cano has produced just a .244/.292/.368 batting line while drawing boos from the New York crowd.
The devolution of Cano isn’t all that stunning – though Brodie Van Wagenen clearly did not see this coming – but few expected Diaz to stumble into the All-Star break such as he has. How bad Diaz has been is a matter of debate, as he’s been worth -0.4 wins above replacement by measure of rWAR, whereas Fangraphs takes a brighter view, putting his worth on the year at a positive 0.4 fWAR. Neither are what the Mets hoped for, but by Fangraphs measure there is some hope that Diaz hasn’t lost what made him so special last season.
Looking at fielding independent metric, Diaz looks downright functional with 3.72 FIP and 2.87 xFIP. His 14.85 K/9 is only down a little from last year’s mark, while a .425 BABIP and 21.9% HR/FB% speak to a certain degree of poor luck. If Diaz can get the balls to stop leaving the yard, his overall numbers should rebound. Of course, it’s a zero sum game for closers, and no matter how the peripheral numbers look, the blown saves have piled up and forced Callaway to consider his options, such as they are.
Were there a deputy on hand to depose Diaz, his removal might be hastened, but it’s slim pickings these days in the Mets bullpen. Jeurys Familia has been an equal disaster, and Seth Lugo blew three saves from June 23-29. Robert Gsellman saved 13 games for the Mets last season, but his surface numbers (4.96 ERA) aren’t much better than Diaz. The lack of alternatives might buy Diaz some time to turn it around, but the watch is on.