It’s cold and it’s rainy. It’s late October. The lights go out. The crowd roars. Dema Ga Ge Gi Go Gu begins blaring throughout the stadium. From the bullpen emerges Edwin “Sugar” Diaz, on to record the final three outs of the 2018 World Series.
Okay, maybe that was a bit too optimistic. Lets take a step back. A lot has to go right for us to get to that point. Such is the life of a closer. It’s purely arbitrary. You may go five days without seeing a closer or it may be a nightly spectacle. It’s all contingent on how the team is playing. With the 2018 Mariners, who knows?
Edwin Diaz’s career has been an interesting one. Drafted by the Mariners in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft, the Puerto Rican was tabbed to be a starter. However, half way through the 2016 season, the then 22-year-old was asked to make a change.
Relieving. Diaz had never done it in his professional career. The move was made in order to streamline his path to the majors and Diaz took control. He made his major league debut by June 6th of 2016. I remember watching that game. Something about it felt special. He was absolutely electric on the mound, recording his first career strikeout in a loss to the Indians. The Edwin Diaz project was underway.
2017 was an interesting year for Diaz. He posted a 3.27 ERA in 66 IP while recording 34 saves. His K/9 did fall to 12.1 from 15.3 in his rookie year and his BB/9 jumped from 2.6 to 4.4 while giving up 10 home runs. Diaz 1.4 WAR in 2016 dropped to a 0.9 in 2017 even though he threw 17 more innings. His command struggled which led to some extra blown saves. There were patches last year when it was uncertain if Diaz was going to remain the M’s closer or if that role would be given to someone else.
So, with an uninspiring 2017 behind him, what makes me believe that Diaz will have such a good year? First and foremost, this Mariners team will have stability. They aren’t going to have a repeat of last year when they used 40 pitchers. The bullpen seems much stronger now after the addition of Nicasio and a full year of David Phelps. Plus the additions of Shawn Armstrong and Nick Rumbelow give the M’s a chance to have a real powerhouse of a bullpen.
Nick Vincent will return and Dan Altivilla has been lights out thus far in Spring. Mark Rzepczynski and James Pazos will lead the way from the left side and someone like Ariel Miranda or Marco Gonzales could find themselves in a bullpen role once the 5th starter battle is settled.
The bullpen seems like it will be one of the biggest strengths of this Mariners ballclub and Diaz is the head of the beast. He may find himself with more save opportunities because this bullpen will keep the M’s in the game better than last year’s. Add a solid lineup to that and Diaz’s job may be even easier.
At the beginning of Spring Training, Diaz claimed he wanted to be the “Old Guy” on the field, referring to his ability to stay mentally tough when things start to get a bit shaky as well as knowing what to throw in any given situation. That by itself helped me decide that Diaz is “My Guy”. He is already a confident player but if he thinks he can add another layer to that, then I’m all in.
Steamer projects a 3.19 ERA with 32 saves in 2018. For me, Id say that Eddie will have better year than that. A lot pitchers have a harder time in their 2nd year because hitters have had a chance to watch video and figure out the pitchers tendencies.
The 3rd year is the pitchers chance to change some parts of their delivery, maybe develop a new pitch and find a new way to get people out. Diaz doesn’t have a problem striking people out but he did have a problem finding the strike zone. That is not uncommon for hard throwing pitchers and Diaz is no exception.
I’m putting my faith into big Edwin Diaz. So much so that I’ve drafted him in both my Fantasy Leagues so far. Going into his age 24 season, he still has a lot to learn. He’s going to be one of the M’s best players in 2018. You should trust me, the random internet guy that you don’t know.
I’m currently sacrificing my Dustin Ackley signed baseball to the Baseball God’s to ensure that the injury bug doesn’t find our closer and that he has a good year. If Diaz is healthy, the Mariners are going to be in very good hands at the end of games. 2018 is going to be an All Star year for Edwin Diaz. The “Old Guy” is my guy and soon he will be everybody’s guy. 39 Forever.