Edwin Diaz is now a relief pitcher. This is a fact. You could argue and throw out comparisons and rip this move until your bones collapse, but Edwin Diaz will still be a relief pitcher tomorrow and the next day and, in all likelihood, the day after that. Rather than lamenting about what Diaz might've been as a starter, it's probably time to move on and focus on what Diaz will be as a relief pitcher. And if his first few appearances out of the pen are any indication of what he could be for this team in the immediate future, then we are in for some fun.
In four relief appearances, Diaz has been close to perfect, recording eight strikeouts and allowing just two baserunners in five innings. His FIP sits at 0.17 and opponents are hitting just .118 off of him. Five innings is, of course, a microscopic sample size. The hilariously-low FIP probably won't last over a few more outings, but what should last is the stuff he's been throwing since moving to the pen. That stuff has been very good:
More of the same from Edwin Diaz in a scoreless 7th tonight. Perfect inning with a K on 10 pitches. Sat 95-96, hit 98.— Brandon Liebhaber (@B_Liebhaber) May 20, 2016
Diaz just struck out the 3-4-5 hitters in Mobile's lineup in order. Hit 98 mph with the fastball.— Brandon Liebhaber (@B_Liebhaber) May 17, 2016
Diaz, in short stints, can sit 93-97 with a played-up slider.— Jason A. Churchill (@ProspectInsider) May 9, 2016
Diaz has indeed become a serious power-arm in the bullpen overnight. His fastball-slider combo was already lethal as a starter, and the shift to the 'pen allows him to throw it with significantly more effect. Players with high-90s fastballs and wipeout sliders don't grow on trees (but then again, neither did Horacio Ramirez) and it's becoming easier and easier to see Diaz in a Mariners uniform within the next couple months.
For a team that currently has almost an entire MLB bullpen on the disabled list, this is wonderful news.
Diaz offered the following during an interview on his move to the bullpen:
"So far, it's good," Diaz said. "I was surprised, because I always thought I'd be a starting pitcher. But they said it was the best for me, so I'm OK with it. If it is the quickest way to get to the Major Leagues, I'm happy with it. That's what I want...I was throwing 90-94 mostly [as a starter]. In relief, I can throw harder"
Some quick notes:
- Top prospect Alex Jackson hit a massive home run in his first game with Class-A Clinton.
- Justin De Fratus is starting to look like Justin De Fratus again. After being an extreme contact pitcher for the first month of the season, he has struck out eight over his last five appearances.
- Stefen Romero's 3 for 4 performance last night pushed his numbers up to .373/.434/.611 which is a pretty absurd line to have this deep into May.
- Tyler O'Neill Watch: The slugger remains arguably the most consistent bat in the whole system. He's yet to run into even a mini-slump this year and currently sits at .325/.380/.563. On the downside, it feels like if the Mariners are buyers at the deadline, O'Neill will be the first piece every team asks about.