Edwin Diaz did something in Thursday’s loss to the Nationals that he hasn’t done all spring.
He allowed a runner to reach base.
Diaz, who has had an electric spring training to this point, allowed a single and a double in his one inning of work, but with runners on second and third and two outs, he struck out Carlos Tocci on three pitches, including a nasty wipeout slider, to end the inning.
Diaz has not allowed a run in any of his four appearances this spring, and he’s now held opponents without a run in 15 of his last 16 appearances, dating back to last season.
The 26-year-old put up tremendous numbers last season, pitching to a 1.75 ERA with a whopping 17.5 strikeouts per nine innings. It was a bounce-back season for the reliever after a down year in 2019, and even though he pitched to a 5.59 ERA that year and was seemingly snake-bitten by the home run ball, he said on Thursday that his confidence never wavered.
“I never lost my confidence in 2019. I just felt like my pitches weren’t sharp enough, but I always felt like I was the best and I’d always go out there and compete,” Diaz said, via a team translator. “After that season, in the offseason, I really worked on both of my pitches to work on the location, to be able to locate my fastball better, to work on my slider so it could break the way I wanted it to. So that’s really what I did. I put in a lot of work, but it was never my confidence that was short, per se.”
Opening Day is still two weeks away, but as of now, Diaz is feeling extremely confident in his own abilities, given the results he’s gotten this spring. He’s taken a regular-season mindset into all of his spring outings, and that appears to be paying off.
“It’s really about consistency for me,” Diaz said. “Consistency is the biggest thing, to be able to execute my pitches the way that I want. I feel really happy. I feel confident when I’m out there on the mound. I feel like I can do whatever I want. I feel like I’m the best pitcher out there.
"I prepared myself a lot this offseason so that when I got here, my first outing would be pretty much be my first outing of the regular season. I worked really hard, I’m excited, I’m happy with the results ‘ve been getting, and I just want to continue working hard so I can have a good season this year.”