Edwin Diaz is getting off easy. The cardboard cutouts will remain quiet.
Following a brutal debut season in Queens spent absorbing venom from Mets fans, Diaz has quickly destroyed any optimism of a bounce-back campaign, and potentially lost the trust of new manager Luis Rojas, with his second straight ninth-inning meltdown coming in Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Red Sox at Citi Field.
Diaz — appearing for the first time since blowing Sunday’s save on a two-out, two-strike, game-tying home run by Atlanta’s Marcell Ozuna — was called upon to open the ninth with the Mets trailing by one. After throwing 34 pitches in his first two outings of the season, Diaz needed 35 pitches to record just one out, allowing one run, two walks and one hit batter, before leaving with the bases loaded.
Afterward, Rojas wouldn’t commit to using Diaz in high-leverage situations.
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“A different Diaz than what I saw in camp, than what I saw the first two outings,” Rojas said. “Not the same Diaz we’ve seen recently. Definitely we gotta have talks, we gotta work and make sure we get him right back on track.
“We gotta work on it and fix it. We liked what we saw in the first two games, and in camp, and this is different.”
In addition to issues with Diaz’s command and mechanics, Rojas detected another problem.
“I did see some emotions tonight when he wasn’t getting the results,” Rojas said. “He’s got to control his emotions and that’s some of the things we’re definitely gonna talk about.”
Diaz’s latest setback began with a leadoff walk to Alex Verdugo. Next came a single by Michael Chavis, followed by a four-pitch walk to Andrew Benintendi to load the bases. After striking out Rafael Devers, Diaz brought home a Boston insurance run by hitting Jose Peraza. Diaz left the game responsible for three runners on base, but Paul Sewald retired the next two hitters to prevent Diaz’s 7.71 ERA from jumping higher.
Just five days earlier, Diaz, 26, opened the season with a save, triggering flashbacks of the Mariners All-Star who posted a league-high 57 saves and a 1.96 ERA in 2018. Now, the more familiar images have returned of the closer who lost his job last season, while recording a career-worst 5.59 ERA with seven blown saves.
Since joining the Mets, Diaz’s 37 earned runs allowed in the ninth inning or later are the most given up by any pitcher in the majors.