Lost in the celebration and triumph of the Mets combined no-hitter on Friday was the absolute filth Edwin Diaz served to the meat of the Phillies order.
Diaz was the only pitcher among the Mets arms who followed starter Tylor Megill who realized he was walking into a no-hitter when his signature entrance music, “Narco” by Blasterjaxx & Timmy Trumpet, blared through Citi Field. Once he reached the mound, catcher James McCann approached Diaz to tell him they were ditching the PitchCom device because it was too loud. So, rather than listening to an automated voice, Diaz and McCann went the traditional route — watching for the catcher’s signs.
“It was too loud to use it,” Diaz said. “People were screaming.”
Three outs away from the second-ever no-hitter in Mets history, combined or not, McCann called for Diaz to throw slider after slider against Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos and JT Realmuto. Of the 13 pitches Diaz offered the Phillies, 10 of them were sliders. The closer said he didn’t question McCann’s pitch calling too much because the Mets bullpen had been “nasty” before him.
So Diaz relied on his best pitch, a 90 mph slider that featured the sharpest of breaks on a blustery night in Flushing. Whereas in previous outings fans have seen the dilemma with Diaz’s slider — if he misses his mark on even just one, and it hangs over the plate just a moment too long, then it could mean trouble — his breaking pitch on Friday was devastating. Diaz struck out the side and completed the five-pitcher combined no-hitter.
“He’s not just a heaver that goes out there and sees if he can overmatch people with his fastball,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said of Diaz. “He’s a lot more of a pitcher than people think. If you look at some of the pitches that he made last night, those were some good hitters, really good hitters. It’s tough to find any weak links in their batting order.”
Asked if that was one of Diaz’s best performances since joining the Mets, the closer nodded his head and simply said: “I think so.” As far as memorabilia, Diaz said he kept his jersey, cleats and hat from the no-hitter.
Diaz said his social media was flooded Friday night with congratulatory texts and messages from friends, family and fans. He sifted through them all once he reached home, about a 20 minute drive from Citi Field, and sat on his couch just going through the compliments.
His lights-out performance lowered his season ERA to 1.80 across 10 relief appearances to go along with his four saves.
“Edwin’s shown the resiliency, think about it, even with seasons,” said Showalter. “He’s at a stage where I think he’s kind of figured out himself a little bit.”
The Met closer has endured quite the journey since he was traded, alongside Robinson Cano, to Queens amid fans that were furious about the transaction. Further worsening the optics around the trade, Diaz deeply struggled in his first year with the Amazin’s, compiling a career-worst 5.59 ERA and blowing seven save opportunities.
Diaz dug himself into a hole after that first season and if Mets fans needed any more convincing that he’s back to being the elite closer he was for the Seattle Mariners, then Friday was the ultimate confirmation. In a high-pressure situation surrounded by expectant fans, Diaz oozed confidence and the results followed.
Next, the closer is tasked with maintaining that consistency over the course of the next five-plus months. But fans should be encouraged by his ability his to meet the moment in one of the toughest spots he ‘ll find himself this season. If Diaz was once unreliable and inconsistent in high-leverage situations, his performance his on Friday showed he ‘s October-ready.
“Edwin’s in a good part of his career,” said Showalter. “That’s another good thing about having multi-year contracts. You get the chance to pull out of it and he has.”