NEW YORK -- Thirty saves for Edwin Diaz is no small feat with five weeks remaining in the regular season. For the man going by "Sugar" during the ongoing Players Weekend festivities, it's a pretty sweet accomplishment."That's a pretty good number," Diaz acknowledged with a smile after putting the clamps
NEW YORK -- Thirty saves for Edwin Diaz is no small feat with five weeks remaining in the regular season. For the man going by "Sugar" during the ongoing Players Weekend festivities, it's a pretty sweet accomplishment.
"That's a pretty good number," Diaz acknowledged with a smile after putting the clamps on Seattle's 2-1, 11th-inning victory over the Yankees on Friday night.
Indeed, the hard-throwing 23-year-old from Puerto Rico is just the ninth pitcher in Mariners history to record 30 saves in a season and the first since Fernando Rodney in 2014. He's just the 11th pitcher in Major League history to rack up 30 saves in a season at age 23 or younger, and he sits third in the American League in saves this season behind only Alex Colome of the Rays (38) and Roberto Osuna of the Blue Jays (33).
Diaz had only 12 saves in the season's first three months, but he has converted 17 of 18 chances since the All-Star break, the most in the Majors in that span.
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"This was a big goal for me," Diaz said. "First of all, the first two months I didn't think I'd get to 30 saves. I was pitching okay, but after the All-Star break I was throwing the ball great. I just tried to keep going and save every game. This team is happy, and we'll keep rolling."
Diaz has converted 30 of 34 opportunities on the year, with 76 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings. Opponents are hitting just .181 against him.
"He's been great," said catcher Mike Zunino. "Coming back from that All-Star break really recharged him. He was fighting some stuff earlier in the year, but he's throwing really well now. Little hiccups are going to happen, but he's done a great job of slowing the game down and closing out that ninth for us."
"He's been really big for us," said manager Scott Servais. "With all the close games we've had, our second-half surge has been directly related to our bullpen and he's been a huge part of it. It's been great to see. I'm happy for him and happy for us, because it's what we needed."
Servais said Diaz is sequencing his pitches a little differently now and working more up and down in the strike zone to take advantage of his high heat and tough slider. And Diaz acknowledges an early-season adjustment in his approach has paid dividends.
"When I know my mechanics are good, I will make my outs," Diaz said. "I will not walk anybody. I'm working every day on my mechanics. That is part of my routine, and I know I'll be good every day now because I work hard and those little things help me."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.