Callaway has never outright said Diaz is not his closer, but insisted that he and his staff will do whatever it takes to win.
Well, more light has been shed on how the Mets plan to win and it’s clear that Diaz is no longer the team’s exclusive closer.
Had the Mets taken a lead entering the ninth inning Friday night against the Washington Nationals, it would have been Seth Lugo serving as closer instead of Diaz, a source told Yahoo Sports.
While that scenario did not unfold since the Mets trailed entering the ninth before rallying against Sean Doolittle for a 7-6 win, it would have marked the first time the Mets passed on Diaz in a save situation while he was available to pitch.
Despite his struggles, Diaz has exclusively served as the team’s closer this year except on nights when he was unable to pitch. The team has stuck with the unreliable righty even while he’s posted a 5.32 ERA.
Lugo, meanwhile has emerged as one of the game’s top relievers, carrying a 15 2/3-inning scoreless streak into Saturday’s game against the Nationals. Diaz has allowed four runs in his last five outings while blowing one save opportunity.
Callaway has been upfront about the possibility of possibly not using Diaz in the ninth, but no scenario had presented itself until Friday. Lugo closed out the second game of Monday’s doubleheader after Diaz has pitched in the ninth in the matinee.
During Friday’s game, the Mets trailed 5-3 in the eighth inning and brought the tying run to the plate. Had they tied the game or taken the lead, Lugo would have entered, according to the source. The Mets ultimately didn’t score that inning, and Robert Gsellman started the ninth inning, his second inning of work.
One inning later, the Mets were again ready to bring Lugo into the game in the 10th had the teams gone to extra innings.
If Diaz is the exclusive closer, the Mets would have gone to him both with a lead or in a tie game, but it’s quite telling they were willing to go with Lugo instead. Diaz also is well-rested, having last thrown a scoreless inning Monday.
Lugo did warm up multiple times Friday, which factored into the decision, but that normally wouldn’t deter a team from bringing in its closer.
Diaz certainly will receive save opportunities moving forward and could still get the bulk of the saves, but it’s clear he’s no longer the pitcher the Mets feel is the one who will give them their best chance with a lead or in a tie game.
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