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After 56 K's in only 28 innings, it's time to embrace the joy of Edwin Diaz's nigh-unhittable slider

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 31: at Wrigley Field on July 31, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

At the beginning of the season, Edwin Díaz was just a 22-year-old hurler coming off 20 so-so performances as a starter in Double-A. After a handful of starts this year, the Mariners shifted him to the bullpen. 
That seemed to be the right move. After reaching the Majors on June 6, he's become an unstoppable strikeout wizard who tears through bats like they're made of nothing but the flimsiest of ideas. In 28 innings, he's struck out an absolutely unbelievable 56 batters. For those who hate math, that's two batters every inning! It's enough that Diaz has been handed the closer's role at the tender age of 22. Only 21-year-old Roberto Osuna is a younger ninth-inning man. 

Here are some fun facts for you: 
- He's struck out more batters than Mike Pelfrey has in 115 1/3 IP. 
- He has 10 appearances where he's struck out three-plus batters. That already ties him with Dellin Betances and David Phelps, and puts him behind only Kyle Barraclough, Andrew Miller and Michael Feliz. Let me remind you, Diaz wasn't called up until June 6. 
- He comes out to "Pour Some Sugar On Me" because his nickname is Sugar. Which is the best reason to ever play that song. 
How's he doing it? Beyond the explanation that he's using telekinesis to manipulate both the baseball and the hitter's mind, he's got an upper-90s fastball that decimates hitters: 

But his real weapon is a wipeout slider: 49 batters have ended their at-bats against the slider. In those ABs, they've struck out 34 times. Just watch how he struck out the Angels in order in the Mariners' 6-4 win on Friday night with sliders to all of them. Even Mike Trout and Albert Pujols were powerless against the offering. As Mariners announcer Dave Sims noted, "That slider is fiiiiiilthy." 

Of course, this is a very small sample size and so it would be irresponsible of us to suggest that he could break Aroldis Chapman's 2014 reliever record of 17.67 K/9. Befitting his status as a rookie, Diaz will likely struggle soon -- whether it's batters making adjustments or the young hurler simply seeing his mechanics go screwy, that's just what happens to pitchers in their early 20s. 
At the same time, this is the kind of strikeout dominance that -- even in an era where high strikeout totals are the norm -- we just haven't seen before. Whatever happens the rest of the year, when the Mariners go into the ninth inning with a lead and "Pour Some Sugar on Me" blares from the speakers, you know fun is coming. And that's worth getting excited for.