Saturday, September 7, 2019

Callaway: Diaz "not getting the ball where he wants to"

Edwin Diaz on the mound searching for answers Friday night. Photo by Jason Schott.

When the Mets acquired Edwin Diaz in the offseason, they thought they were bringing in one of the top closers in baseball after he saved 57 games with the Seattle Mariners last season.

The reality has been far different, as he has a 2-7 record with a 5.88 ERA and has basically been removed as the team's closer.

However, there are nights when he is still asked to close games, as was the case on Friday night.

Diaz entered withe the Mets leading Philadelphia, 4-2, and he had an outing that shows his all-or-nothing nature as a pitcher with a live arm.

The inning began with Logan Morrison striking out, followed by a Jean Segura single and a two-run home run from J.T. Realmuto to deep left.

The inning then ended with strikeouts by Corey Dickerson and Rhys Hoskins, and the Mets went on to win it, 5-4, in the bottom of the ninth.

"We're going to continue to work," Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said on Saturday afternoon when asked where he goes from here with Diaz. "He goes out there and throws early every day. You know, the strikeouts are coming - they've been there, I think, what has he struck out, nine of his last 15 batters?"

For the season, Diaz has racked up 89 K's in 52 innings.

"The long ball continues to be an issue," Callaway continued, "so we're going to continue working with him, continue to pick our spots when it makes sense to pitch him, and go from there.

"The one thing is, we can't ever give up, no matter how bad things are going for anybody, you can't give up in this game. That's part of life, that's part of this game, and we got to get it done because we're trying to get somewhere special, and he's going to have to help us to do that."

Callaway said the reason for the 14 home runs Diaz has allowed this season is simply "bad pitches. I mean, you see the 0-2 pitch that got hit for a home run last night, it just wasn't executed. It's a backup slider that ends up middle-in, and a great hitter like Realmuto is going to crush that pitch, and that's the common theme when you give up homers. You watch it every night on ESPN, rarely a really good pitch gets hit out, you know, it'll happen every now and again. 

"That's what's plagued him the most, is staying in the heart of the plate, and then not getting the ball where he wants to."

One thing that is constant with Diaz's appearances for the past few months has been that he is greeted by a chorus of boos, and then after performances like Friday night's, exits to that same din of discontent from the Mets faithful.

On if that affects Diaz's mindset when taking the mound at home, Callaway said, "You're always worried about that, right, with any player. Whatever they're going through, you try to make sure that you're on top of that. That's part of their development as a player. That's part of a responsibility of a coach, and so, you're always worried about that.

"We hit him up, like 'hey, keep your head up, we gotta get this pitch here, you know, you try to give him constructive criticism, try to pump him up when they need pumping up, and it's deserved. You try to get them in the right frame of mind so they can go out there and compete and get the best out of themselves."

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