How New York City Approached Edwin Diaz’s Transformation From Bust of the Big Apple to King of Queens

Edwin Diaz no We forget that there was a time before he was a folk hero for the Mets, before Timmy Trumpet’s “Narco” horns marked New York’s next win, before he was the best in baseball.

Just three years ago, for the most part, Diaz would come home from Mets games, rest his head on his pillow and think about what happened on the field: Another game, another save, another home run at a crucial moment. In 2019, he was actively contributing to the Mets’ losses reaching 5.59 ERAs (seventh-worst offenders), 15 people allowed and -0.6 bWAR in 58 innings. After each difficult walk, the same four words would run through his head, night after night, until after she had rescued her.

“I lost again,” Diaz told ESPN.

New York tabloids crushed his performances. Mets fans tore up trade with the Seattle Mariners who got him to the Queens, lamenting the loss of top odds Jared Kielnik And the Justin Dunn For all the nearest stars who now can’t stop giving up their moon shots. Critics wrote about him as the latest athlete to wither in the spotlight from the Big Apple.

Diaz, too, has felt the pressure of being the focus of a big deal for a team anticipating competition in October.

“In Seattle, it wasn’t the same,” Diaz said. “I haven’t seen the same number of reporters as here. On social media, things were bigger here… The first year was tough.”

Diaz saw two paths for himself: he could let his failures overtake him, or he could use them as a hard lesson on how to manage extreme pressure, big risks, and huge expectations. Over the next two seasons, Diaz began taking the last lane, scoring 2.95 ERAs and 38 saves in 89 games. But in 2022, he made it to his destination, with 1.52 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 1.13 FIP (the best among the painkillers in baseball) and 101 hits in 53.1 innings.

Now, as much as fans once tore it up, they’ve built it.

“Everyone was saying I was one of the worst professions,” Diaz said. “Now this is paying off, and everyone is talking about the opposite.”

from his childhood In Puerto Rico during his time in the Mariners’ ranch system and his first three years in the majors, Diaz rarely struggled, cruising in a 98-mph fast ball and a first-class slip that made hitters look like they’d never seen a ball break before.

But after he led the MLS in 57 tackles in 2018 and was dealt a huge deal in December, something changed. The 15 runs he allowed in the ninth home game in 2019 were the ones the bowler had given up in a single season in Major League history, and thoughts of failure reverberated in his head.

“I really tried not to think about it every time, but at the same time, it was always there,” Diaz said. “It’s hard to ignore that.”

After the Mets finished 86-76, missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season, Diaz went home to Puerto Rico to press the reset button. There he began reworking his firing point, which became inconsistent throughout the 2019 season. He reached out to Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez – who worked with the same personal trainer – and showed him videos of his sessions. Martinez sent him his notes, giving him small tweaks centered around slowing down the transfer of his weight on the pile.

When the Mets hired Jeremy Hefner as their new coach on the field, Hefner made a trip to Puerto Rico to work with Diaz.

“I didn’t have to do much with him,” Hefner said. “He’s been letting his natural abilities show one way or the other. It’s only been a bad year.”

For Diaz, some tweaks to the pile were required, but the biggest adjustment came in his mindset: changing the way he approaches his game days, and how he handled the scrutiny that comes with playing in New York.

“In the long run, failure here could be the best thing that can happen to him,” said Mets Riverver. Adam Ottavino, who grew up in Brooklyn and has also pitched for the Yankees. “You feel this fear of failure. It’s a shock to the system. But you fail, you get booed and then you realize you’re okay. You have that moment where it hurts so bad, but then you realize that you’re the same person and it’s not surprising how he’s going to feel anymore. You already know that’s The worst that could ever hurt me or I could be hurt by them.”

Diaz considered some advice he got from another Hall of Fame: Yankees legend Mariano Rivera. Diaz met Rivera for the first time at the World Championships in Los Angeles in 2018, when he was awarded the MLS Loyalty League title of the year. More than a year later, as he worked through the adjustments to his firing point, Diaz was remembering Rivera’s advice about being a great savior of late for a long time.

“Wash everything right away,” Rivera told Diaz. “If you play well, rinse it off right away. You did a good job, you did a bad job – get rid of it right away. You have to come to the field tomorrow and you have to go out again and compete.”

Diaz built him Regain trust, relying on his family when he needs extra emotional support. The mental work paid off immediately, and Diaz had the 2020 season cut short by pandemic, scoring 1.75 ERAs in 26 games before appearing in 63 games in 2021 with 3.45 ERAs and 32 saves. Mostly, he relied on what got him into the big leagues in the first place: a blazing fast ball and devastating pass slider.

“I knew I had things,” Diaz said. “I’ve got things going and I’m a player who can be one of the best players in the game when I’m at the top. I kicked everything away, went home and put my body back on track in 2020 and everything was going in the right direction.”

It has not stopped evolving. Hefner notes the increased focus in how Diaz approaches the pre-game throwing program in 2022. Before matches, Diaz plays catch with bullfighter Dave Racanelo, betting $10 on whether they can accurately hit each other’s gauntlet with each throw.

“If you’re just watching him, it might sound silly, but he’s very intentional and it helped him take the training to the match,” Hefner said. “There’s an intention he adopts in his show, not that he wasn’t there before, but that he elevated it.”

And while Diaz has always been a throwback player, he made a dramatic transformation in 2022, further increasing his reliance on the slider. During his career, Diaz threw a fastball on 61.5% of his courts and sleds on 37.5% of them. In 2022, that balance changed, with speedballs at 42.5% and passing chips up to 57.5%. This helped him achieve a high career rate of 48.4%, compared to his career average of 39.3%.

No baseball loyalist has more hits, missed more bats or has a better independent bet. He’s faced 206 hits this season and only allowed two barrels, according to Statcast. Diaz is on track to score the fourth-highest hitter ever for a loyalist (40 runs minimum), having hit 49% of his hitter. That success comes with Diaz heading to free agency this season, with some around baseball believing he could become the first loyalist to sign a $100 million contract.

Buck Showalter, the Mets manager, said the impact of having someone like Diaz extends beyond close games. His success on the hill in high-leverage situations reduces anxiety across the entire team.

“I don’t think we take what he’s doing for granted,” Showalter said. “One of the biggest things when you’re in a situation is what’s enough? It wears off on the players and the team. He was a guy for us saying that’s enough. He made the branches important.”

And while Diaz’s name was floated in the National League Cy Young Award competition, Ottavino said he should be closer in the conversation for a different award.

“I think it fits better than the MVP candidate,” Ottavino said. “It fits more than those criteria. I mean, where would we be without it Edwin Diaz? Maybe not in the first place.”

Diaz has heard this praise from teammates and even players on opposing teams, but he knows that a bad month in September or October can turn cheers to boos, and that his historic success in 2022 can easily be forgotten in time. A crucial spot in the postseason. He enjoys the frenzied energy that arose around Timmy Trampet’s entry, but he doesn’t allow himself to absorb any of it.

“I want to get rid of him,” Diaz said. “Immediately.”

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