A closer needs to shut the door, not open them

In a clutch situation, a closer need to shut the door, not allow the opponent to open and then run through them. The latter is what happened in yesterday’s Mets-Pirates game.

Photo by Filip Kominik on Unsplash

The victim: Edwin Diaz.

Let’s start by looking at his ERA as the season has progressed:
– April: 2.00
– May: 3.97
– June: 2.38
– July: 12.60

Over the past 30 days, his performance based on his ERA has been on the decline.
– Last 30 days: 8.38
– Last 15 days: 12.60
– Last 7 days: 27.00

In particular this season, Diaz’s performance in away games has been worse than in home games.
– Home ERA: 2.45
– Away ERA: 6.75

In home games, his record is 3-1; whereas, in away games it is 0-3. Similarly, in day games, his record is 3-1; whereas, in night games it is 0-3.

Even more surprising are his slash lines for right- and left-handed batters.
– Against right-handed batters: .275/.351/.362
– Against left-handed batters: .175/.303/.222

Diaz is at his best on two-strike counts.
– 0-2: .200 (BA)
– 1-2: .065
– 2-2: .200
– 3-2: .077

With regard to the effectiveness of his pitches, the run value when he throws his slider is -6; whereas, against his fastball it is +6. Run value reveals a pitch’s impact. The lower the value, the better.

Further, when he throws the slider, batters are hitting .180 with a .213 SLG, but when he throws his four-seamer, batters are hitting .268 with a .366 SLG. Those are the only two pitches Diaz has thrown this season with 63.1% of them four-seamers and 36.9% sliders.

Based on the above data, Diaz is at his best when he does not fall behind in the count, throws more sliders than four-seamers, faces left-handed batters, and pitches in home day games.

The data in this post is from espn.com and baseballsavant.com

Body or heart and mind? Or both?

Though the Mets Spring Training has just begun, the Edwin Diaz drama continues.

In Joel Sherman’s article, “Mets are desperate for Edwin Diaz resurrection,” “faulty mechanics” are blamed for Diaz’s 2019 problems on the mound, highlighted by his 5.59 ERA and his 45.3 Hard Hit % — 10 points more than his previous high.

Source: Statcast


Sherman writes, “He opened up his front shoulder too soon too often, plus his hand position was off.” Diaz adds, ““I left too many pitches right in the middle.”

In 2019, why weren’t the Mets able to figure that out? That failure is not just a coaching problem, it is a team problem, one Mets GM Van Wagenen has been trying to resolve.

New pitching coach Jeremy Hefner has inherited the Diaz problem. However, poor pitching mechanics do not appear to be what most concerns Hefner.

“He [Diaz] can only control what is going on in his chest and inside of his brain. That is what we have been focusing on,” Hefner said.

Diaz says one thing; Hefner another. Body or mind and heart?

Sherman summed up the situation:

Today, he [Diaz] is the face to what currently is an abysmal trade — Seattle received one of the majors’ best prospects in Jarred Kelenic while the Mets got Diaz and Robinson Cano, who had his worst season at the plate and with health in 2019.

Despite the hope that Hefner expresses, the Diaz problem does not appear to be a quick fix.

Dodgers hammer Diaz despite his “excellent pitches”

During yesterday’s ninth inning loss, the Mets’ closer, Edwin Diaz, pitched batting practice for the Dodgers. As a result, his ERA in away games jumped to 4.50. At home, it is 2.19.

When he entered the game in the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers had a 3.4% chance of winning, according to FanGraphs. Then, seven batters and one out later, the Dodgers won the game 9-8.

The graphic below shows how the game’s Win Expectancy shifted in the bottom of the ninth.

Source: FanGraphs

Five of the seven batters that Diaz faced had batted balls: two homers, two doubles, an intentional walk, a single, and a sacrifice fly. The chart below shows the pitch location of five of the six batted balls. (Justin Turner’s double is shown. Cody Bellinger’s is not.)

Source: Baseball Savant

Here are Diaz’s pitches the Dodgers hit (data from Baseball Savant):
– Home run: Slider (Pederson)
– Home run: Four-seam fastball (Muncy)
– Double: Slider (Turner)
– Double: Four-seam fastball (Bellinger)
– Single: Two-seam fastball (Beaty)
– Sacrifice fly: Slider

Diaz threw 30 pitches, but only four- and two-seam fastballs and sliders. Three of the nine sliders were batted balls, but only three of the 21 fastballs were. Further, while 11 fastballs were fouled off only one slider was. But the average exit velocity of the fastballs was 100.1 mph, four mph faster than for the sliders.

Only 43.3% of the pitchers were in the zone; however, the Dodgers swung at 84.6% of them, showing excellent plate discipline: They made contact with 81.8 % of them.

Source: Baseball Savant

The next chart, a spray chart shows how spread out the Dodgers’ batted balls were.

Source: Baseball Savant

After the game, Diaz said,

“Today was easily the worst day of my career, the worst game of my career, the worst game of the season for me,” Diaz said through an interpreter. “I thought I threw excellent pitches.”

Anthony DiComo — Edwin Diaz blows save against Dodgers | New York Mets

What makes yesterday’s outing particularly surprising is that, after it, left-handed hitters are batting .188/.250/.531 against Diaz; whereas, right-handed batters are hitting .286/.344/.429. Six of the seven Dodger batters that Diaz faced were left-handed.

As, if not more, surprising is that in away games, batters are now hitting .310 against him versus only .196 in home games.

Yesterday, while Diaz was on the mound, Wilson Ramos was behind the plate.