Why the Mets think Edwin Diaz is in Cy Young coverage

Only nine relievers have won the Cy Young Award, none since 2003, when Eric Gagne did so with the Dodgers.

And with two months left this season, Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara is the heavy favorite to win the NL Cy Young.

But does Mets close Edwin Diaz have a case in the middle of a downright dominant season?

“One hundred percent,” Mets reliever Tommy Hunter said Friday. “Who’s throwing better than him?”

Diaz, who didn’t attend the Mets’ 9-6 loss to Atlanta on Friday night, is in a class of his own. After his six-out save against the Braves on Thursday, Diaz made 87 of the 167 batsmen he faced this year with 0.89 WHIP, 1.44 ERA and 24 saves in 43/ innings. His strike rate of 52.1 percent is the highest in MLB history by a relief pitcher through 43 appearances in a single season.

Meanwhile, Alcantara has been the most conspicuous starter. Entering Friday, he had 1.88 ERA, 141 strikeouts, three complete games and 0.93 whip in 158/₃ innings.

Mets close Edwin Diaz made a six-out save in the Mets’ win over the Braves in Game 1 of the five-match series.
NY Post: Charles Weinzelberg

“Yeah, he has great stuff, but nowhere close to being as effective. [as Diaz]’ Respectfully,’ said Hunter. “He’s great, don’t get me wrong. But he’s definitely not in Edwin’s category right now.”

Of course, on the way to the Mets clubhouse, one starting pitcher had a different view of the reliever’s Cy Young candidacy.

“To be quite honest with you, it’s very hard to win it as a reliever because of the price,” said Chris Bassit. “The value of a starter is quite different from the value of a reliever. You have a starter that can win a Cy Young, which is worth significantly more than a close.”

Vince would agree to Above Replacement Basit. Diaz recorded Alcantara’s 4.2 to 2.2 fWAR, per Fangraph. But both Bassit and Hunter, who have previously been partners of the Cy Young vote-earning reliever, agree that what Diaz is doing is special.

Hunter was in the Orioles bullpen for the first half of 2016 when Zack Britton posted a single-season record 0.54 ERA (for a pitcher with at least 50 innings). Lefty Close, a ground-ball specialist, finished fourth that year in AL Cy Young voting.

Edwin Diazoo
edwin diazoo
NY Post: Charles Weinzelberg

“What Edwin is doing is on a different level,” Hunter said. “Granted, I’m not taking anything away from Jack Britton’s dominance and that’s not something I intended to do – but it’s a whole different level of dominance. A lot of ERA’s with your team and game and defense and uncontrollable results.” Something has to be done. Edwin is controlling his own destiny at a historic rate.

“He’s taking this opportunity and he’s putting his stamp on it.”

As of Thursday, Diaz’s 87 strikeouts led all MLB relievers and 21 more than the second-place pitcher, the Cardinals’ close Ryan Helsley. Diaz has been particularly untouchable lately, 33 of his last 45 have come via strikeout.

“It’s like a video game,” Bassit said.

In 2020, Bassett was an Oakland teammate from Liam Hendrix, who finished ninth in the AL Cy Young voting (Bassit finished eighth). In 2018, he was on the roster with Blake Trainen when the Athletics finished sixth in AL Cy Young voting. Diaz’s season reminds Bassit of Trennan that they were able to limit Bassrunner.

“Clearly close with the really good things but they let people on base so things can happen,” Bassit said. ,[With Diaz]It’s more than honestly, when someone gets on the ground, it’s like, ‘What happened?’ It’s not even scoring. The most impressive thing for me is that he doesn’t get along with people.

“When you have the elite stuff that he has, the biggest thing is, do you beat yourself up? He just doesn’t.”

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