Flushing, NY- Mets manager Buck Showalter preferred not to use closer Edwin Diaz in the first game of a day-night doubleheader versus the Braves Saturday afternoon at Citi Field. Diaz picked up his first career six out save Thursday evening and the division leading Mets got off to a good start in their four game series with the Braves.
So the last thing Showalter tried to avoid was using Diaz to close the 9th inning in the first game of a day-night doubleheader Saturday afternoon. It looked like Diaz, with a career high 16.l innings scoreless streak, would not be needed.
But the Mets bullpen, as has been accustomed to doing, could not hold off the Braves with a comfortable lead going into the 9th. The manager came out of the dugout with Braves’ runners in scoring position
The bullpen door opened. Trumpets began to play. Here comes Edwin Diaz and he got the final two outs on seven pitches. Diaz notched his NL leading 25th save and is fourth in the Majors. The Mets took the first game 8-5.
And no matter how much Edwin Diaz is called upon, despite the manager trying to keep his closer fresh as the dog days of August commence, there is no alternative because the Mets bullpen ability to end or close a game relies heavily on Edwin Diaz.
Diaz had struck out 87 batters in 43 games prior to shutting the door. The last out was recorded on another strikeout getting pinch hitter Eddie Rosario to swing on a 99- mile fastball.
However, with the Mets still holding a 4-½ game lead over the Braves, and with the second best record in the NL, should there be a concern about the workload of Diaz, because a remaining part of this Mets bullpen is suspect to being trusted in late game situations.
Diaz is having a career season, next to, of course, the MLB leading 57 saves he compiled with the Mariners in 2018. A rough couple of years after a trade to New York, and getting more than a share of boos, Diaz has rebounded and become a fan favorite.
More importantly, the fastball and sinker have become two pitches that have become his forte, perplexing opposing hitters. And seeing Edwin Diaz enter and close the 9th inning gets more interesting as he attempts to become the seventh reliever in franchise history to strike out 100 batters in a season.
After the two-inning save Thursday evening, an important opening series game win for the Mets, Showalter said “We don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring.” He was referring to using Diaz and those game saving situations, obviously now not hesitant to bring his closer in for a four-out save.
Or Diaz coming out of the pen for that six-out save. Basically. Edwin Diaz has become the Mets bullpen, obviously more as the trade deadline last week failed to address a need of obtaining reinforcements. So when the bullpen door opens, and the trumpets start, fans at Citi Field begin to dance.
Once the Citi Field crowd would moan and groan when Diaz came out of the pen for a game saving situation and usually a blown save or another misfortune led to a Mets loss.
Turn the clock forward because the year of 2022 is leading to MVP numbers with two consecutive National League Reliever of the Month awards. And Diaz wasn’t needed to close the nightcap as starter Max Scherzer gave the Mets 7 -innings on four hits, 11 strikeouts.
The bullpen finished their second doubleheader sweep of the season over the Braves winning the nightcap 6-2. Edwin Diaz relaxed in the Mets bullpen as the Mets increased their division lead to 5-½ games with a chance to take four of five games from the Braves Sunday afternoon.
Rich Mancuso is a senior writer @Latinosports.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com Watch “Sports with Rich” live on Tuesday Nights at 10pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with Robert Rizzo Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under The SLG Network.
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