Díaz hurls perfect 9th with sizzling fastball in 'sharp' return

June 14th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Anthony DiComo’s Mets Beat newsletter, written this week by Bill Ladson. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

NEW YORK -- A few hours after being activated from the 15-day injured list, Mets closer found himself in a high-leverage situation during the team’s 3-2 victory over the Marlins on Thursday night.

It was like old times. The song, “Narco” by Timmy Trumpet, was heard once Díaz came out of the bullpen in the top of the ninth, and the fans at Citi Field gave him a nice ovation. They were not disappointed in Díaz, who retired the side in order.

The way manager Carlos Mendoza saw it, Díaz pitched like the closer who dominated hitters and won the Trevor Hoffman Award as the National League’s top reliever in 2022. It was three up, three down with a strikeout. Díaz’s fastball was clocked as high as 99.6 mph.

“I like the sequencing today,” Mendoza said. “The way he mixed his pitches -- fastball and slider -- he went slider, slider, then fastball, fastball, slider. He didn’t become slider happy or just fastball happy.”

Díaz missed a little over two weeks of action because of a right shoulder impingement. Before the injury, Díaz allowed 12 earned runs in 20 innings. At one point after a game against Miami on May 18, in which he allowed four runs in one-third of an inning, Díaz acknowledged that he had lost his confidence.

But he was back on the mound against the Giants five days later. Díaz pitched two games in the San Francisco series at Citi Field and allowed one run in two innings before the shoulder injury flared up. Díaz knew something was wrong, because he had a hard time warming up and playing catch. Now it looks like the much-needed rest is paying off.

“I feel 100 percent today. … I was throwing my pitches the way I wanted. My slider was sharp. I just did my job,” Díaz said.