Every time I see Edwin Diaz enter a game, I get the chills. His stuff is absolutely electric and at 22 years of age, has the savvy poise of a seasoned veteran.
Since being called up from AA Ball, Diaz has appeared in 21 games, pitch 21.2 innings and struck out 44 batters. That’s about an average of striking out 2 batters an inning. He reminds me of Mariano Rivera, the great Yankee closer. Not in style as Diaz has one all his own. His fastball his in the 98 – 100 mph range and has thrown 101 mph. Even more devastating his slider which has become a very effective out pitch for him.
He reminds me of Rivera in the fact that he could tell a batter what pitch was coming, where it’s going to be placed and the batter still wouldn’t be able to hit it.
So here is a message to GM Jerry Dipoto: Mark Edwin Diaz as untouchable…do not trade him even if Mike Trout is available. Do not lose him to free agency and do not even think about changing his style.
Mariners have a history of letting players go that have gone on to have great success on other teams: Adam Jones to Baltimore, Randy Johnson to Houston (who went on to win 2 Cy Young awards and a World Series ring with Arizona), Jason Varitek to Boston and, as much as I hate to say it, Alex Rodriguez to the Rangers then to the Yankees.
The Mariners have had some special players…Alvin Davis, Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson and of course, the soon to be Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr. who in my opinion, is one of the best players to have ever played the game.
Felix Hernandez is also a special player and the Mariners owe it to him to keep Diaz in a Mariner uniform as I see him as the closer of the future. And not just for a couple of seasons. This kid has the stuff to be an elite closer for at least a decade.
Granted, he isn’t always going to be able to throw 100+ mph pitches…his awareness of that is evident of his developing a devastating slider now while he can hit 100+ fastballs. At some point, I wouldn’t doubt that he develops a cutter like Rivera that would be just as knee-bending as his slider and mystifying as his fastball.
Dipoto talks about building for the future. With current stars of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager and Felix, the Mariners have an exciting core group on the rise in players like Leonys Martin, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Mike Zunino and Ketel Marte.
Let’s peak into the future, say 2018, just as a pitching staff:
Starting rotation: Felix Hernandez, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Nick Neidert, Luis Gohara.
Closer: Edwin Diaz
I don’t know how to address the rest of the bullpen since set-up pitchers and long-relievers are always in a state of flux. But I do see the starting rotation being pretty close to that and Edwin Diaz, the Electric One, being the closer who could average 40-45 saves per season.
While this season may not shape up to what we hoped it would be, the future is in good hands. And future leads will be protected by one Edwin Diaz.