There is a secret weapon for Mets reliever Edwin Diaz when it comes to him potentially rebounding in 2020.
"Once I started throwing this offseason and putting in the work, I was kind of able to pick up on a few different things," Diaz explained Saturday through Mets translator Alan Suriel about how he has worked on correcting his mechanics. "I had a few friends who were able to kind of pinpoint what exactly was going on."
One of those friends? Former Met and Hall-of-Famer Pedro Martinez.
While working on his mechanics -- which Diaz said were the cause of most of his troubles in 2019 -- the closer has been receiving feedback from Martinez.
"I've remained in contact with Pedro Martinez for most of the offseason," Diaz said. "...We've remained in contact all offseason. I would send him videos, he would send me videos and feedback."
Diaz said he has known Martinez since his first year in the big leagues, when he got to know him through Robinson Cano, who was his teammate on the Mariners before they were both traded to the Mets last offseason.
Also speaking on Saturday at Mets Fan Fest at Citi Field was new Mets manager Luis Rojas, who was asked about roles for Diaz, Jeff McNeil, and other key players. Unlike Carlos Beltran, who said earlier this offseason that he expected Diaz to be the closer, Rojas would not commit to set roles at this point for anyone.
For Diaz, lots of his struggles in 2019 had to do with an inability to harness his slider and figure out his mechanics. He also dealt with bad luck at times.
If you dig into the advanced numbers, it's easy to see why many -- including projection systems and Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen -- expect Diaz to bounce back this coming season.
Diaz had a 4.51 FIP/3.07 xFIP, struck out a still-elite 15.36 batters per nine innings (a better rate than his breakout campaign in 2018), and stranded runners at about the same rate he has during his career last season.
In December, the annual ZiPS projections from Dan Szymborski/FanGraphs suggested that 2019 was an aberration for Diaz and saw a dominant season coming from him, with ZiPS projecting he would have a 2.98 ERA (2.77 FIP) and 105 strikeouts in 66.3 innings. His home run rate in 2020 is projected to be 1.2 per 9 IP after coming in at a brutal 2.33 per 9 IP in 2019.
Diaz is expected to be part of a revamped bullpen that will have free agent addition Dellin Betances as part of it. Who closes (or if there is one defined closer) remains to be seen. But it appears Diaz is on the right track toward erasing his forgettable Mets debut.