Photo: Jon Wells
Edwin Orlando Díaz
Height: 6'3" Weight: 165
Bats/Throws: Right / Right
Born: 03/22/1994 in Humacao, Puerto Rico
Acquired: Drafted 2012 (3rd round)
MLB Debut: 06/06/2016
Free Agent after: 2022 season
He’s so close to being elite, isn’t he? He’s young, lean, throws in the triple digits. If you rank least season’s 30 top relievers by saves, Díaz comes in 15th in innings pitched (66), tied for 19th in blown saves (5), and tied for 8th in saves (34). Meaning he’s right in the middle for opportunities, at the higher end for succeeding at those opportunities, and at the lower end for screwing them up. All good. He’s eighth in strikeouts (89) and tied for 9th in hits given up (44)—great numbers given his IP. Yet among these relievers, his WHIP (1.15) is 16th and his ERA (3.27) is 19th. What’s the problem?
The problem is the thing that comes back to haunt us: walks. His 32 free passes last season is more than all of these relievers save two (AJ Ramos and Corey Knebel). Home runs are also an issue: He gave up 10 last year. But the biggest problem, oddly, may be that so-called pitchers’ paradise he calls home: Safeco Field. On the road, Díaz threw 361⁄3 innings, gave up 13 hits, 14 walks, and two homers. His batting average against was .106 and his ERA was 1.24. But at the Safe, he wasn’t: 292⁄3 IP, 31 hits, 18 walks, and eight homers. That’s a .265 batting average against and a 5.76 ERA. Aberration? Anomaly? Probably. We’ll find out more this year.
The M’s have never had a great reliever. At best we’ve had a guy who made us cheer one season and groan the next: Mike Schooler, Bobby Ayala, Norm Charlton, Kasuhiro Sasaki, J.J. Putz, Fernando Rodney. Put it this way: If Díaz simply keeps repeating his 2017 performance, he’ll be the all-time Mariners saves leader by June 2020.