Díaz key part of Reds' future after dominant '22

October 5th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Mark Sheldon's Reds Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

When Reds Spring Training started, there was buzz surrounding some of their rookies – namely Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo. But little was said at the time about reliever Alexis Díaz. After he made the team out of camp, the 26-year-old Díaz quickly emerged as Cincinnati’s best reliever and is the de facto closer.

Entering Wednesday, Díaz has a 1.84 ERA and 0.96 WHIP with 83 strikeouts in 59 appearances and 63 2/3 innings.

Díaz is finishing the season as a rare pitcher who leads his team in both wins (7) and saves (10). Since the save became an official stat in 1969, it’s only the 16th time that has happened. It most recently happened in the shortened 2020 season for Richard Rodriguez of the Pirates. The last time it happened in a full season was by Doug Jones of the Astros in 1992.

The Reds bullpen could be an interesting group in 2023, by the way, if Tejay Antone and Lucas Sims can return from injuries to join Díaz to work the late innings. We’ll have all offseason to delve into those possibilities.

In the meantime, I recently spoke with Díaz about his rookie season. It was edited slightly for length and the answers were translated from Spanish by Jorge Merlos.

MLB.com: How do you feel about what you achieved this season?

Díaz: I evaluate this as a great year for me. I put in all the work out there and really showed everybody what I can do. I just think it’s been a surprise for me of how well this year has gone.

MLB.com: Where was your biggest area of growth?

Díaz: It’s been the confidence that I’ve had on the mound and being able to be tough and attack hitters when I’m on the mound that I know I can get them out.

MLB.com: What will you work on during the offseason?

Díaz: There are a lot of things I can really work on, just like my overall strength and durability out there. Other than that, it’s just maintaining my arm and staying healthy and being ready to attack next year too.

MLB.com: Do you like the closer’s role and getting the chance to lock down games in the ninth inning?

Díaz: I’m eternally grateful that the team has given me the opportunity to come in during the last inning to close out games. Obviously, it’s a very important inning but as I’ve said before, I’m ready to go whenever I am told to come in a game.

MLB.com: That being said, would you want the same role next year?

Díaz: Of course.