What Edwin Diaz discovered in his recovery and how it could help the Mets closer ahead (2024)

NEW YORK — Edwin Diaz might have been dropped into the perfect scenario for his return from the 15-day injured list.

In his first game back, the closer was brought on with the Mets trailing by one run against the bottom of the Marlins' lineup. But the results were all that mattered.

After pulling his first two pitches wide, Diaz settled in and recorded three straight drama-free outs in the top of the ninth inning. He picked up his second victory of the season as J.D. Martinez came through in the clutch and delivered a walk-off home run to boost the Mets to a 3-2 victory on Thursday night at Citi Field.

"I was feeling 100 percent," said Diaz, who picked up two ground balls and a strikeout on his slider. "I saw I was throwing 99, 100 (mph) today. I didn’t do that early in the season. I was locating the pitches the way I wanted to. My slider was sharp, and I just did my job."

What Edwin Diaz discovered in his recovery and how it could help the Mets closer ahead (1)

Diaz, who was on the shelf with a right shoulder impingement, still has the confidence of his manager. Carlos Mendoza said on Wednesday that Diaz would step back into the closer role immediately despite struggles over the last month of the season.

He provided some confidence in his first outing since May 25 when he blew a save, giving up a run on two hits against the Giants. For Mendoza, the biggest encouragement came with Diaz's sequencing. He did not get too reliant on either his fastball or slider.

"I think the feeling after he got the three outs was there," Mendoza said. "You could sense the energy. We got three outs, got back in the dugout, ‘Let’s win a baseball game now.’ And we did it."

Edwin Diaz's road back

What Edwin Diaz discovered in his recovery and how it could help the Mets closer ahead (2)

Diaz said he felt something was not right with his shoulder in the days following his outing against the Giants.

After three or four days away from throwing, the Mets closer had an opportunity to work on his mechanics. He watched video with Jeremy Hefner and noticed his delivery was moving more east-west than north-south.

He saw some results in two minor-league rehab outings with High-A Brooklyn where he threw two scoreless innings, struck out three and allowed one hit and one walk.

"As soon as I went to the minor leagues, threw a couple of those games, they were really happy with what I did down there because I was locating my fastball how they wanted to and the slider was a good combo with the fastball," Diaz said. "I did the same thing today."

Now, the major question is can Diaz return maintain the similar form that he exhibited back in 2022 prior to the season-ending knee injury that he suffered during the 2023 World Baseball Classic?

In his first 10 outings across 9⅔ innings this season, Diaz only allowed one earned run and converted each of his first four saves. In his next 10 outings entering Thursday, the right-hander has given up 10 earned runs and converted just one of his five save opportunities. In the process, his ERA drifted up to 5.40.

Thursday's return was a positive step for Diaz and the Mets' collective confidence late in games.

"At the end of the day, I think it was important for him to get a clean inning, to get three outs and for us to come back and win that game," Mendoza said. "Moving forward, I think it will mean a lot, not only for him, but to all of us. Now that we got Diaz and the way he looked today, it was good to see."

Dedniel Nunez keeps his job, Danny Young sent down

What Edwin Diaz discovered in his recovery and how it could help the Mets closer ahead (3)

With the Mets holding a two-run lead against the Marlins in the second half of Wednesday night's game, Mendoza believed that the start of a third inning from Dedniel Nuñez gave the Mets their best shot at a victory.

Despite being down for at least a day after throwing 29 pitches during his perfect 2⅓ innings of relief, Nuñez remained a Met moving forward following Diaz's reinstatement. Left-hander Danny Young was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse instead.

Relievers:How Dedniel Nunez proved he belongs in Mets bullpen with latest lockdown outing

"(Nuñez) is showing us what he's capable of doing, but it's also good to have a guy that can come in the middle of inning, especially when you have the lead or the game is right there, you want to hold the other team," Mendoza said.

"He's put himself in a really good position here. I could see him now not only giving us multiple innings, but high-leverage situations, I wouldn't hesitate to use him when he's available."

With a 2.30 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 15⅔ innings, Nuñez has proven to be a valuable asset through his first 10 major-league games, providing multiple innings and a diabolical slider that tunnels well off his high-90s fastball. He has also mixed in a split-changeup to better himself against left-handed hitters.

Efficiency against lefties will be key for the entire Mets bullpen moving forward, with Jake Diekman as the lone left-hander remaining following Young's demotion.

What Edwin Diaz discovered in his recovery and how it could help the Mets closer ahead (2024)


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