Mets stay committed to Edwin Diaz, bullpen as rough stretch continues

Edwin Diaz has had a tough stretch over the last couple of weeks.

Over his last five outings, including three save situations, the Mets closer has given up eight runs over 4.1 innings. In that span, the closer has blown all three save chances and the Mets have lost four of those five games. 

After a successful low-leverage outing on Friday -- where Diaz gave up just one hit in a scoreless inning -- the reliever was asked to close out Saturday afternoon’s game in the ninth inning. Unfortunately, the right-hander allowed the tying run and the Giants wound up winning in 10 innings. 

After the game, manager Carlos Mendoza reiterated his commitment to getting Diaz right.

“He’s going through it right now,” Mendoza said. “Had a week to work on some things and today gets ambushed on the first pitch and then the way the ball went down the line. We have to continue to stay with him, work with him and get him through it.

“He’s a big part of our bullpen… We’ll continue to give him the ball and find some matchups for him and get him going.”

Diaz was a bit of a tough-luck pitcher on Saturday. Wilmer Flores hit the first pitch he saw for a single to lead off the ninth. After a strike out, Ryan McKenna -- who was pinch-running for Flores -- stole second. LaMonte Wade Jr. came off the bench and drove a double down the line that plated the tying run.

The Mets closer would get through the inning but the damage was done. Despite the hiccup, Diaz said that he felt good pitching and that his confidence, which he admitted last week after blowing two saves in a row was very low, is better than last week.

“I’m fine, I’m good. I threw really good pitches. That’s what I want to do,” Diaz said. “The result didn’t go my way but how I performed, how I looked, how I feel is way better than last week.”

Although Diaz blew the ninth, the rest of the Mets’ bullpen has not picked up the slack of late. In Friday’s loss, the combination of Reed Garrett and Jorge Lopez gave up six runs in two innings. On Saturday, Sean Reid-Foley gave up five runs in the 10th that put the game away. 

“They’re going through it right now,” Mendoza said of his bullpen. “That’s the challenge here is trying to mix and match and give guys a chance for success and right now we’re not getting it done. 

“We just have to stay positive with them. I know it’s hard. I know it’s hard. They’re going to continue to work, back each other up and they’ll get through it. Right now we have a few guys back there who are struggling.”

Mendoza was asked if he think he’ll need to change his bullpen up, and the first-year skipper said that there’s nothing they can do. This is the roster that they have, but he believes they can get back to when they were performing better in April.

“That’s what we got. We have to continue to work with them,” he said. “They got the job done earlier in the year and right now that’s not the case. We have to continue to work with them and get through it. Right now it’s a rough stretch.”

The Mets manager was questioned after the game about whether there were other options in the pen in the ninth inning, but Mendoza believed it was the right move to make and he didn’t hesitate to use his All-Star closer.

“I thought Diaz was the right guy today,” he explained. “It was a good matchup for [Adam Ottavino] in the eighth and I felt good with Edwin in the ninth. We just didn’t get the job done.”

Mendoza added, “He’s our closer. In order for us to win games and get to where we want to get, he needs to pitch. I felt like that was the right spot for him….He’s got to fight through it. You can’t hide him. He’s too good of a pitcher.”

Diaz was the best closer in baseball in 2022. He converted 32 of 35 save opportunities and pitched to a minuscule 1.31 ERA. After a lost 2023, when Diaz had knee surgery, and now pitching with the pitch clock and the bigger bases for the first time, just something isn’t clicking for Diaz. 

But the same can be said about the Mets in general. Saturday was the team’s fifth straight loss and their 12th in their last 15 games. They are a season-worst nine games below .500.

Despite the Mets’ poor play in May -- they are 6-16 after Saturday’s loss -- Mendoza doesn’t believe it’s affecting his team’s mindset and that they just need to play up to their ability.

“They’re professionals. We gotta find a way to get the job done,” Mendoza said. “Right now we’re not finishing games and they’re tough losses. At the end of the day, we have to find a way.”