Mets' Edwin Diaz: 'The goal is, I want to pitch this year'

Edwin Diaz
Edwin Diaz / Wendell Cruz - USA TODAY Sports

Speaking to New York reporters for the first time this season on Monday afternoon, Mets closer Edwin Diaz made his outlook for the rest of the season abundantly clear: he wants to pitch.

Throughout the season, and perhaps even more so in the last few weeks, questions have arisen about Diaz, who underwent surgery in mid-March to repair a torn right patellar tendon suffered during the World Baseball Classic: not just if Diaz would pitch in 2023, but if he should pitch in 2023 with the Mets seemingly out of the playoff picture.

The 29-year-old told reporters that to this point, all arrows have been pointing up throughout his recovery process, and if he physically can take the mound this season, then that’s what he wants to do.

“The goal is, I want to pitch this year, but I’ve got all these checkmarks to check off,” Diaz said. “We have to see what’s coming up.”

He added “As soon as I got the surgery, they said the recovery time is 6-8 months, and my thought was be ready for six months and I’m working on that.”

Sunday was another big milestone for Diaz, who threw a bullpen session for the first time. The closer explained that while he’s played catch off the mound prior to Sunday, this session saw him pitching “like a game,” with the catcher down in his stance.

Diaz said that the goal was for him to throw between 93-95 MPH, and “I was hitting it easy.”

“We’re feeling great, the progress has been perfect,” Diaz said. “We are checking a lot of boxes, and we feel really good right now.”

“Our steps right now, I threw my first bullpen [Sunday] and I feel great. If it responds really good, we’ve gotta keep going to see how it feels the next couple days.”

Diaz was nothing short of phenomenal for the Mets last season, earning an All-Star nod and finishing Top-10 in NL Cy Young voting as he pitched to a 1.31 ERA with an absurd 17.1 strikeouts per nine innings. And while the closer had a rough first season in New York in 2019, he’s been one of the games most dominant closers since, saving 70 games for the Mets with a 2.27 ERA.

Being away from the team this season, especially while things have turned out so differently than what was expected, has not been easy for Diaz.

He said he hopes to pitch one or two games this season to build some momentum heading into 2024, when he wants to run back out to the Citi Field mound with trumpets blasting.

“Sitting outside and watching the team play, I want to be there with them closing games in the ninth,” he said.

“My goal is to come back as soon as I can.”