Cincy series a family reunion for Díaz brothers
'We are really, really tight,' Edwin says of brother Alexis. 'We do everything together.'
CINCINNATI -- When the Mets take the field at Great American Ball Park this week, Edwin and Alexis Díaz won’t be the only members of their family present. The two brothers will be there, of course, along with their mother, father, sister, nieces and others.
It’s a family reunion for a specific occasion. Although Alexis Díaz is wrapping up an injured-list stint and won’t participate in the games between the Mets and Reds, he will still be able to spend time with Edwin Díaz, his older brother. Edwin plans to hang out at Alexis’ apartment while in Cincinnati, where the two will enjoy each other’s company for the first time since March.
“We FaceTime each other every night, after every outing that we do,” Alexis said. “If not, if he can’t find me, he’ll text me and say, ‘Dang, I was nasty.’ Then I’d go check the highlights and I’m like, ‘Yeah, you were definitely nasty.’”
Edwin Díaz may be having his nastiest season to date, leading qualified Major Leaguers by a wide margin with 17.54 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s 18-for-21 in save opportunities with a 1.95 ERA.
Of course, the elder Díaz has been doing this sort of thing for a long time. Alexis, who is three years younger, endured a more complicated road to the Majors, including undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2016. He pitched at Double-A Chattanooga last season but skipped a level, making Cincinnati’s big league bullpen out of Spring Training.
Six weeks later, Alexis and Edwin Díaz became the third set of siblings -- and the first in nearly a quarter-century -- to record saves on the same day.
“I’m really proud, because he’s worked really hard,” Edwin Díaz said of Alexis. “He had some injuries when he was in the Minor Leagues, but he made it, and he’s doing really, really good right now. I’m really happy for him.”
In recent weeks, a bout of right biceps tendinitis has kept Alexis on the IL, where he’s been since June 19. He will not be active for the three-game series against the Mets, and although Alexis is nearing a return, the closest Edwin will get to see him in action will be during a live batting-practice session on Wednesday.
The injury interrupted what had been a strong rookie season for Alexis, who owns a 2.40 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 27 appearances while using a two-pitch mix of four-seam fastballs and sliders. It’s the same strategy that Edwin has used to great effect in New York, which is hardly a coincidence. The two talk often about pitching, both during the regular season and after Alexis’ games for Santurce in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Alexis offers plenty of advice to Edwin as well, despite his older brother’s more accomplished track record.
“We are really, really tight,” Edwin said. “We do everything together.”
The last time Alexis watched his older brother pitch in person was 2018, when Edwin was with the Mariners.
“After my Minor League season was over, I would fly into Seattle and stay two weeks with him,” Alexis said. “I felt that same adrenaline as he did on the field whenever I saw him pitch. I felt that energy coming through him to me. It was a magical time when he was pitching out there with Seattle. I’ve seen it so much that I can understand where I get that energy, too.”
For the 25-year-old Alexis, stepping onto the same Major League field as Edwin will be extra special, even if he won’t be on the active roster. The Reds will travel to Citi Field for another three-game series Aug. 8-10, giving the brothers an opportunity to become the first Puerto Rican-born siblings to oppose each other in a Major League game -- and to grab whatever bragging rights they can.
“It’s something that I’ve thought about forever,” Alexis said. “We’ve talked about it with my brother since the beginning that we would face each other.”
Added Edwin: “I’m really happy for him, and looking forward to seeing him stay in the big leagues like me.”