Having blown a lead or a save in each of his last three outings, including a save on Tuesday night, questions are growing louder about Edwin Diaz’s role as the Mets closer.
With every pitcher’s recent struggles come questions about the absence of sticky substances, and it has been no different with Diaz. While allowing 10 runs in his last eight innings, the Mets closer has watched his average rpm on both his fastball and slider drop by nearly 200 in the past two months, a steady decline that began right around when MLB sent out its memo warning of the incoming crackdown on illegal substances. Rojas doesn’t know what pitchers in his clubhouse were using certain substances like Spider Tack, but he doesn’t believe a lack of substances is the reason behind Diaz’s recent implosions.
“I’m not aware if he was,” Rojas told Carton and Roberts on Tuesday. “A lot of guys used different things that are not permitted right now that weren’t exactly the product you mentioned in the beginning…whether it was sunscreen and sweat or pine tar and sunscreen, whatever it was, and somebody had a better grip than they have now, I’m unaware of who was using what. But grip wise and command wise, I see how it can affect different pitchers. I don’t know about the affect on spin rate difference, that’s the one part where I’m not a master, but I can talk about Edwin’s mechanics, I know they’re out of whack right now, and they’ve been out of whack, but it’s something we feel he can make the adjustment outing to outing.”
Rojas is much more focused on Diaz’s mechanics, which he feels have been noticeably off in recent outings, which he believes is behind the .904 OPS that he has allowed in his last eight appearances. It is something the Mets say he dealt with in his debut season with the Mets in 2019, basically a lost season for him, but they believe it is something he can fix on the fly, and quickly.
”I think he learned from that experience in ’19,” Rojas said. “We were able to present to him what happened and what caused the pitches to move like that, and this will be another reminder. Pitchers go through this in their careers. You click and you get hot as a hitter and pitcher, and you just don’t think about things and do them. Then you get in a funk and go on a search, and then you gotta be reminded that this is what you’re doing. That’s the same thing happening to Edwin.”
While Rojas told Carton and Roberts that the Mets still trust in Diaz as his closer, Diaz has been told the same by the coaching staff, who watched him work on his mechanics before Tuesday’s game against the Reds.
“They trust in me, 100 percent,” Diaz told reporters on Tuesday. “I was talking to [pitching coach Jeremy Hefner] and they told me ‘We trust in you, you’re our guy out there.’