Edwin Díaz has been lights out for the Mets through the first two-thirds of the season, recently earning him his second All-Star appearance. Let’s take a look at his dominance through his first 45 appearances.
Edwin is striking out hitters at a historic rate this year. Díaz currently holds the best K% and Whiff% in baseball this season. He is currently posting a K/9 of 18.07 and a K% of 52.9%. If maintained, these marks would become the best all-time for a reliever over a full season. Díaz currently has the slight edge over Aroldis Chapman’s 52.5% K% and 17.67 K/9 with the Reds in 2014. In addition to the massive strikeout numbers, Díaz is walking 7.0% of hitters which is below his career rate. If he’s able to maintain these numbers, his K-BB% of 45.9% would also be the best relief season of all-time besting current leader, Craig Kimbrel, in 2012 and 2017.
It’s difficult to call this a breakout season for Díaz…he was brilliant in 2018. This is definitely a resurgence back into the upper echelon of relievers though. His 289 ERA+ would be the best mark of his career, as would his .082 FIP. He’s still the same pitcher he was 4 years ago—relying on his 100mph 4-seamer and his dastardly slider––but with a few minor tweaks.
The White Castle Special: Sliders!
Edwin’s slider has become his primary pitch this year and it’s paying dividends. He upped his slider usage from 37.8% in 2021 to 55.5% this year. That massive jump in usage is certainly no mistake; Díaz is throwing his best pitch earlier in counts and significantly more often. He’s leading hitters off with the slider more frequently than he ever has. This has resulted in a career-high (and major-league leading) first pitch strike rate of 71.3% (up 9.1% from last year). Additionally, he is throwing his slider more often than his fastball in 2-1 and 3-2 counts, showing how much confidence he has in that pitch. The -3.7 RV/100 on that slider makes it the 4th best pitch in baseball (min 50PA).
Control has never been the name of Díaz’s game. He could often be described as effectively wild. This year however, Edwin has found the control of his slider a bit. The heat maps below show he’s getting that slider down and away to right-handed hitters over half the time. His fastball control is still a bit all over the place. It’s not that important though, when you’re throwing 100mph with 13.5 inches of run and a wipe out slider in your back pocket. His lack of fastball control has to be one of the more daunting things about facing him. You may get 100mph chin music, or you may get a slider that falls off the table at the last second.
The Best of the Best
With Josh Hader struggling uncharacteristically this year, the case should be made that Díaz is currently the best closer in baseball. Ryan Helsley and Emmanuel Clase have a lower ERAs. Taylor Rogers has more saves, but with the game on the line? I am taking Edwin Díaz over any reliever in baseball. His 52.9% K% is 11.2% better than runner-up Devin Williams. His xFIP is .58, and the next closest reliever is Devin Williams at 2.01. His SIERA is 0.87; Andrés Muñoz is in second with a 1.78. Díaz has simply been in a class of his own. He has been utterly dominant, and is in the home stretch of one of the great seasons in reliever history.
Just for fun: Edwin Díaz since he last allowed a run: 18IP, 7H, 1BB, 38Ks.
**All stats as of 08/08/22
Featured Photo: @Mets on Twitter