While so many things went right in the Mets’ spectacular 15-2 stretch, there’s still an elephant in the room, a season-long dilemma that is yet to be solved.
The Mets are navigating a closer problem. Edwin Diaz gave up another homer in the ninth inning on Sunday, his fourth in his last six appearances. He’s been bad for months.
"It’s been tough,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “But the common denominator in all those homers is throwing right down the middle. He didn’t execute a pitch. That’s normally what happens when you give up a home run.”
Diaz, for his part, is trying to focus on the mental side of the game.
"I try to have a positive attitude every single time,” Diaz said through interpreter Alan Suriel. “I’m just trying to get out of this rough stretch that I’m in right now. If I’m frustrated all the time it’s just going to get worse.”
If the Amazin’s appoint their closer based off results in 2019 alone, Seth Lugo has earned it. The reality is, that decision is not as simple when factoring in Diaz — battered and bruised from a disappointing year — sitting sheepishly in the Mets bullpen.
Lugo recorded six outs to earn his fifth win of the year in the Mets’ thrilling 4-3 victory over the Nationals on Saturday. He entered in the eighth inning of a 3-3 tied game before coughing up a go-ahead homer to Juan Soto. That late blast snapped a 15.2 scoreless innings streak for Lugo. He had also retired 26 consecutive batters before Soto took him deep.
The Mets rallied for the lead in the bottom half of the eighth inning and, with a 4-3 lead, Lugo retired the side in the ninth. After the game, Callaway said Lugo was going to pitch the ninth inning if the game remained tied, or if the Mets took the lead. Saturday was Lugo’s 12th multi-inning outing of the season and he’s cruised through the majority of them.
“There’s something deep down inside that probably made [Diaz] a little mad he wasn’t pitching the ninth last night,” Callaway said. “That’s what competitors do and that’s how they feel. Maybe it will light a fire under him.”
Using Lugo in Saturday’s win worked out remarkably well for the Mets. But it left them fielding questions, that largely went unanswered, about Diaz’s role for the remainder of the season. Before Sunday’s outing, when he allowed two more runs, Diaz had an unfathomable 6.75 ERA and six losses in 36 relief appearances since April 29. A full third of those outings featured at least one earned run.