Coleman: Analytics Shine Spotlight On Edwin Diaz's Struggles

Ed Coleman
June 04, 2019 - 11:53 am
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Where have you gone, Edwin Diaz? Will the real Edwin Diaz please stand up? You get the picture.  

The Mets have been desperately searching for the dominant Diaz of 2018 that rocked Seattle and the American League, while dealing with the inconsistent Diaz who hit rock bottom after his ninth-inning implosion at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night.

Diaz did bounce back with a perfect 1 1/3 innings Saturday, including striking out the side in the 10th inning of yet another horrendous blown-lead loss on the latest road trip. And let's be perfectly clear -- Diaz is not the ultimate problem here. Getting the ball to Diaz and cleaning up the innings leading to the closer are the real problems. But if and when it gets there, Diaz has not been the same pitcher he was last season.

Edwin Diaz
Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Images

While with Seattle in 2018, Diaz pitched 73 1/3 innings with a 1.96 ERA and a 1.61 FIP (fielding independent pitching). He registered 57 saves in 61 attempts, had the fourth-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.29) in the American League and was second only to Milwaukee fireballer Josh Hader in swinging strike percentage (18.9). But after his Dodger Stadium meltdown, Diaz's ERA rose over 1.5 runs from 1.64 to 3.22. (It now sits at 3.04.) His batting average allowed on balls in play (.340) shows that he has been a bit unlucky. But his FIP is up over two runs (1.61 to 3.70), and his weighted on-base average/expected weighted on-base average, which was .214/.215 last year, has risen to .324/.289 this season.

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In general, the good has been down, and the bad has been up. Diaz's strikeout percentage rate, which was 44.3 last season, is down to 37.6 now. Also down are his swinging-strike rate, his hard/soft contact rate and his chase rate. Diaz has given up as many home runs (five) already this year as he did the entire 2018 season, and in basically just a third of the innings pitched (23 2/3 to 73 1/3). And he has two blown saves in 15 attempts with the Mets, while having just four in 61 tries with the Mariners.

There have been a lot of problems thus far with the Mets: inconsistent offense, sloppy defense, up-and-down starting pitching and bullpen blowups both early and late. The definition of a bad team is usually when you hit, you don't pitch, and when you pitch well, you don't hit. Meet the 2019 Mets. They have turned too many wins into losses already for any or all of the above reasons. This is not on Edwin Diaz. But when the ball gets into his hands, he has to be a lockdown sure thing for a turnaround to begin.

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