Edwin Diaz stumbled in his first game back from paternity leave in early August, but the Mets’ closer otherwise has been on an extended run of shutting opponents down in the past month and a half.
Since blowing three consecutive save chances in mid-July, Diaz has nine saves in nine chances, one win and a 1.13 ERA. The 27-year-old hasn’t blown a save since July 19, and has allowed just six hits and two earned runs in 17 innings over that span.
After Marlins second baseman Joe Panik popped out to right field for the first out in the ninth on Thursday at Citi Field, Diaz handily struck out Jorge Alfaro and Bryan De La Cruz to close out the Mets’ 4-3 win and post his 28th save in 32 chances this season.
Heading into Friday, Diaz had pitched 10 scoreless innings with a mere two hits allowed and 13 strikeouts over his past nine appearances.
During his first Mets season in 2019, Diaz surrendered four home runs in the last month of the season to finish with a whopping 15. Since then, Diaz has given up just four over the past two seasons.
“We talk about [Jeurys] Familia’s command a lot, Edwin’s command, too, is the key,” manager Luis Rojas said before the Mets’ game at Washington on Friday night. “I think two things that played a big role here: his command is one and his feel for the slider, it’s at the best right now.”
Though a few of his saves came during an easy stretch of the Mets’ schedule, against teams such as the Marlins and Nationals, Diaz has still put his signature command on full display. After the Mets’ fourth straight win Thursday (which was technically their fifth after they won a makeup game against the Marlins on Tuesday), they entered Friday within five games of the first-place Braves in the NL East.
Diaz, who had a 3.35 ERA entering Friday, will need to keep it up if the Mets hope to hang in the playoff race.
“A guy that’s blessed with so much talent like Edwin, I think that every time they go through a little bit of adversity, they only get better,” Rojas said. “And as he’s more mature now, as a pitcher, as a human being, I think he’s able to absorb it quicker.
“That’s stress, all pitchers go through a little something and if they take it the best way, they just grow out of it. I think that’s what Edwin did when he went into this stretch and that’s why he’s been so dominant for the last almost two months I think.”