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Notes: Díaz keeps dealing; Alonso rests

Matz might return to rotation this weekend vs. Braves
@feinsand
September 16, 2020

It had been nearly a week since Edwin Díaz threw a pitch in a game, but the extended layoff didn’t seem to faze the right-hander, who struck out all three Phillies he faced in a perfect eighth inning in Tuesday's loss at Citizens Bank Park. Despite not allowing a run

It had been nearly a week since Edwin Díaz threw a pitch in a game, but the extended layoff didn’t seem to faze the right-hander, who struck out all three Phillies he faced in a perfect eighth inning in Tuesday's loss at Citizens Bank Park.

Despite not allowing a run in five appearances since Aug. 30, Díaz hadn’t pitched since Sept. 9 thanks to a pair of off-days and the Mets’ three-game losing streak. The inactivity didn’t halt the momentum he’s had of late, as Díaz recorded his sixth straight scoreless outing.

“I was able to throw bullpens essentially how I would in game situations,” Díaz said through a translator when asked about his five-day break. “I had one of the bullpen catchers actually stand in like he was a hitter, and I was able to simulate that way -- throw to him and make it feel like it was a real game. I was able to stay sharp that way.”

Díaz has more blown saves (four) than he has converted (three) this season, but those numbers don’t tell the story about his season. He even noted that New York has gone on to win two of the four games in which he’s blown a save.

Since Aug. 2, Díaz has a 1.02 ERA in 17 appearances, allowing just two earned runs over 17 2/3 innings. Even with his rocky start in the first week of the season, his ERA for the year is a pristine 1.80.

“This year, my stuff has been really good,” Díaz said. “My numbers have been good. The save numbers are low and I do have four blown saves, but at the same time, that happens; that’s part of the game. You’re not going to be able to save every game.”

The right-hander has 42 strikeouts in 20 innings, and his 18.9 strikeouts per nine innings rank No. 1 among all pitchers with a minimum of 10 innings pitched. Díaz has registered multiple strikeouts in 14 of his 20 games this year.

“It’s unbelievable; he’s throwing the ball great right now,” manager Luis Rojas said. “Fastball and slider are in a good spot, he's getting a lot of swing and misses and strikeouts. This is the Edwin Díaz that we all know.”

With two more years of club control before he reaches free agency, Díaz appears to have swept away the bad memories of his nightmarish 2019 season and said he is “excited” about the future for both himself and this team.

“I think I have good stuff, and I’m going to continue to be prepared for whatever opportunity the team wants to put me in,” Díaz said. “As long as the team gives me that opportunity, I’m happy to be here and I want to be able to help and contribute in any way.”

Taking a seat
The last time Pete Alonso was out of the lineup, he responded the next day with a three-hit, two-homer game against the Phillies. On Wednesday, Alonso -- who is mired in a 1-for-17 slump -- was on the bench for the first time since Sept. 5, giving him a chance to work on his swing as he searches for the consistency that has abandoned him throughout the season.

“Keep working with him and detect what we can do so he maintains that consistency,” Rojas said. “That's the only thing that he's been missing. We’ve seen that great game -- two-run homers or a three-hit game, something like that -- and then the next day, it’s just not there anymore.”

Return to the rotation?
It’s been more than a month since Steven Matz started a game, but the left-hander could get the ball this weekend against the Braves at Citi Field.

“There's a possibility he might be one of our starters for the weekend, but we don't have that day,” Rojas said.

The manager said the team’s needs out of the bullpen over the next two games would determine the weekend’s starters, though Matz will not be available in relief during the final two games against the Phillies, making it a near-lock he’ll get a start against Atlanta.

Spring forward
The Mets announced their 2021 Grapefruit League schedule Wednesday, a 31-game slate that will open on Feb. 27 against the Marlins at Clover Park in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Pitchers and catchers are set to report on Feb. 17, while position players will report on Feb. 22.

New York will host 16 games at Clover Field, welcoming the crosstown-rival Yankees on March 14 and the Red Sox on March 25. Overall, the Mets will play the Nationals seven times and the Astros, Marlins and Cardinals six times apiece. They'll take on the Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays twice each.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.