Mets’ Edwin Diaz won’t use being out for year as reason for closing woes

PHILADELPHIA — It took Edwin Diaz 17 games this season before he allowed his ninth goal and lost his third save. That’s on par with the total number of goals conceded and coughed-up saves he coughed up in 61 games during his magical 2022 season.

Throughout the first seven weeks of the season, Diaz proving to be human has been one of the Mets’ biggest and least pleasant surprises.

The prototypical shutdown closer struck out on his third save opportunity in his last four tries before the Mets fought back in the 11th inning to win 6-5 against the Phillies on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park.

Edwin Diaz pitched in the 9th inning of the Mets’ 6-5 11-inning victory over the Phillies. USA TODAY Sports (via Reuters Con)

There’s a built-in explanation Diaz can cite for his suffering — after all, he’s in his first season back from surgery to repair a torn patella tendon in his right knee — but he’s still hurting. I didn’t want to blame my body for what it might be like. Under construction.

“It’s a year late, but that’s no excuse,” Diaz said after a lackluster but more promising game than other missed opportunities.

Diaz entered the ninth inning with the Mets holding a one-run lead, but was walked on a 10-pitch hit by Brandon Marsh. Diaz then airmailed a wild pitch, moving Marsh to second base.

After getting a strikeout, Diaz was hit with the tying shot when he fielded Bryson Stott’s grounder to right.

He hasn’t been his dominant self so far, but he and his manager have given two explanations for that: he’s working on some mechanical issues, and the pitch is new to him. It may still be adjusting to the clock.

As for the first clarification, Diaz said he and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner are working to fix throwing issues that could specifically affect his fastball.

He threw 16 sliders on Thursday, but only nine four-seamer attempts, and admitted he has confidence in his slider at this point.

“We’re trying to hold our line and get to the plate more,” manager Carlos Mendoza said. “He’s feeling it a little bit right now, especially with his fastball.”

This is Diaz’s first season pitching with a pitch clock, but Diaz said he may have been too conscious of the pitch and worked too fast. He consulted Francisco Lindor and was told to slow down the pace of his game.

“He said, ‘He looked like he had too much speed,'” said Diaz, who has a 3.57 ERA.

Perhaps Diaz was allowed to breathe after the walk and wild pitch.

He struck out Kyle Schwarber and forced JT Realmuto to line out, sending the game into overtime.

Despite the poor results, Diaz and Mendoza believe the two-time All-Star is heading in the right direction.

“He’s been through it before,” Mendoza said. “There’s no question he’s in a good place in terms of confidence. … He’s going to be fine.”