Edwin Díaz Sets Mets' Expectations High on Day One
Mets' All-Star closer focused on group success in 2023
New York Mets closer Edwin Díaz is walking tall these days.
Coming off a superb 2022 campaign that garnered the Puerto Rico product his second career All-Star Game nod, his first Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year Award (plus NL Cy Young Award and MVP votes), and a lucrative five-year, $102 million contract to keep him in Queens for the foreseeable future, things are looking capital-G good for the 28-year-old flamethrower heading into 2023.
Last season, Díaz was beyond dominant, accumulating 3.0 wins above replacement (FanGraphs) and striking out 118 batters, placing him 27th and 48th, respectively, among all qualified MLB starters. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“Last year was a great season for me,” Díaz told reporters in Port St. Lucie on Tuesday (video via SNY). “I just want to try and do the same thing I did last year—throw strikes, command my pitches, and try to pitch every night and help this team to win.”
Asked if he’d be mixing in any new pitches this season, Díaz coyly replied, ”I will keep throwing my two pitches—my fastball and my slider—and keep striking out everybody.”
Funny he should say that! Since the start of the 2010 season (estimating the arrival of the average 22 percent K-rate), only Padres left-hander Josh Hader has more strikeouts per nine innings than Díaz (14.81 to Hader’s 15.25). And Sugar doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
In 2022, Díaz’s slider held opposing hitters to a .114 batting average on plate appearances that ended with that pitch, 31st in MLB among all pitchers. His .154 weighted on-base average (wOBA) with the pitch, was good for 21st among the same group. His -22 run value on the offering was third in baseball. Elite would be an understatement.
And as that slide piece keeps hitters’ heels cemented into the box, Díaz’s four-seam (moving an average of 13.5 inches horizontally; 1.8” above average) will do all the damage—whether tangible or simply setting up the breaking stuff—it’s supposed to. We’re familiar with the process by now. It’s a joy to watch. Truly.
Anyway, throw in one of the more complete rosters assembled in Flushing in recent years, complete with a revamped rotation and restocked bullpen leading to the back-end bully himself, and Edwin Díaz has plenty to be happy about as this fresh new season begins.
“I love being here with the Mets,” Díaz said. “They gave me the opportunity to stay here with them and I’m looking forward to winning a championship here.”
“We don’t have any pressure. We just have to play baseball, everyone has to stay healthy, and win games,” he added. “That’s it […] Our expectation is to win the championship so we are looking forward to start winning games and try to be in the World Series.”
Easier said than done, but yes, let’s do that. Welcome back, baseball.
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