The New York Mets entered Tuesday in first place in the National League East following a win against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday. The Mets prevailed by one run, with closer Edwin Diaz picking up the save in stylish fashion by striking out the side on 11 pitches. It should’ve been a fun time to be a Mets fan and a great night to be the executive who acquired Diaz.
Alas, things are seldom so simple when it comes to the Mets.
The talk of the town on Tuesday had less to do with the end result and more to do with how the Mets reached it. Specifically on the hearts and minds of the New York faithful was manager Mickey Callaway’s decision to hold off on using Diaz until the 11th inning. Had Callaway been more aggressive — inserting Diaz for a four-out save opportunity in the eighth when the Phillies had the bases loaded and trailed by one — then the game might not have had to go on so long.
Yet Callaway explained afterward that the Mets will not be using Diaz for a four-out save anytime soon — not in May, not in July, not in September … only, it seems, in October. This isn’t just a Callaway thing, either, but an organizational decision:
To some extent, limiting Diaz’s workload is a sensible pursuit. He’s pitched in 139 games the past two seasons, with 47 of those appearances coming on zero days’ rest. The Mets have him under team control through the 2022 season — presumably they’d like to do what they can to keep him hearty and hale, even if it means engaging in suboptimal usage.
The problem here isn’t wanting to curb Diaz’s usage so much as publicly committing to rigidity.
There’s probably going to be a situation at some point in the regular season where Callaway does use Diaz for four outs — one that will look similar to last night: a close game against a divisional foe that comes three or four days after Diaz’s most recent appearance. It’s partially the way the game is going — hence two closers, in Jordan Hicks and Blake Treinen, ranking in the top 10 in multi-inning appearances — and it’s partially common sense. You can win a fair amount of baseball games by employing common sense.
Besides, there’s little to gain from locking oneself in this position when they’re almost certain to have to break the Edwin Rules in the coming months. To wit, the Mets have already conceded they could change their approach with Diaz at some point. Meanwhile, pitching coach Dave Eiland either doesn’t seem on board with the rules in place, or didn’t realize there were rules in place.
Walking back these guidelines just makes the whole thing even weirder. If it’s about keeping Diaz healthy, then what will change in a month or two that will cause the Mets to deviate from that plan? And if it’s about something else, why introduce these guidelines publicly when it’s apparent it’s just going to create more headache down the road? The first-place Mets are still a bit of a mess.