As Díaz returns to the 9th, so do his struggles

Mets drop fifth straight after closer blows fourth save and bullpen puts game out of reach

May 25th, 2024

NEW YORK -- On Saturday morning, Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said that reliever was an option for the ninth inning later that afternoon against the Giants even though the right-hander has been inconsistent for most of the season. In fact, Mendoza went so far as to say that Díaz was still the team’s closer.

The statements came after Díaz had great bullpen sessions in Cleveland and didn’t allow a run in the seventh inning against San Francisco on Friday night.

“I thought yesterday was a good step in the right direction,” Mendoza said. “[After] his mound work while we were in Cleveland -- even though he didn’t get into the game -- and some of the conversations we were having with him, there is obviously more conviction. It comes down to trusting his stuff. But we’ll piece it together. We get to the ninth inning. He’s there. He will get the opportunity.”

A few hours later, Díaz entered the ninth inning of Saturday’s game with a 2-1 lead. He ended up blowing his fourth save of the season in a 7-2 loss in 10 innings to the Giants. New York extended its losing streak to five games and has now lost 12 of its past 15 games dating back to the series against Atlanta starting on May 10.

“We have to find a way to get the job done,” Mendoza said. “Right now, we are not finishing games. They are tough losses. … We have to continue to work. We have to continue to fight and find a way to get the job done. That’s the bottom line.”

Once Díaz entered the game, he allowed a leadoff single to Wilmer Flores. After striking out Mike Yastrzemski and allowing pinch runner Ryan McKenna to steal second base, Díaz surrendered a single to pinch-hitter LaMonte Wade Jr. that scored McKenna and tied the score at 2.

After saying his confidence was waning earlier this week, Díaz had a different story on Saturday. He felt confident that he would get his sixth save of the season. He didn’t throw many sliders because he felt his fastball had good life.

“I’m fine. I’m good,” Díaz said. “The results didn’t come my way, but how I perform, how I look, how I feel was way better than [earlier this] week.”

Despite another blown save, it appears that Díaz will remain the closer.

“We have to work with him and get him through it. He is a big part of our bullpen,” Mendoza said. “He has to continue to work. He has to continue to fight. We will continue to give him the ball and find some matchups for him. We have to get him going.”

Diaz said he feels like the closer, but he has to do better.

“I feel I’m the guy in the ninth inning. I’m ready when they give me the ball in the ninth,” he said.

Díaz isn’t the only one that is having problems out of the bullpen. Sean Reid-Foley had arguably his worst outing of the season on Saturday even though the five runs he allowed in the top of the 10th inning were unearned. Jake Diekman, Adam Ottavino and Reed Garrett aren’t exactly lights out either these days. New York’s bullpen has a 4.52 ERA during the month of May. That’s in sharp contrast to the 2.85 ERA the relievers put up in March/April.

“That’s part of the challenge here where you are trying to mix and match and put guys in position to have success,” Mendoza said. “Right now, we are not getting it done. They know they are better than that. We need to continue to stay positive with them. I know it’s hard. They will continue to work. We will continue to back each other up. They will get through it. Right now, we have a few guys back there who are struggling.”