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Edwin Diaz closer role, Mets bullpen tactics unknown under Luis Rojas

Edwin Diaz. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The hiring of Luis Rojas has provided the New York Mets with some much-needed stability after a turbulent week-plus span. 

But not all jobs are safe. 

The new Mets manager confessed on Saturday at the team’s Fan Fest at Citi Field that he is not committed to any particular bullpen roles at this moment. 

That includes having Edwin Diaz penciled in as the team’s closer. 

“We have such a great bullpen, I mean a lot of guys with history of closing games,” Rojas said (h/t SNY). “A lot of them. I think that’s only good. So we’re going to look at it real close. We’re not going to define roles yet, and we’re going to go through the process of spring training and how our bullpen looks throwing the ball and facing opponents.”

Diaz had a nightmare first season with the Mets, becoming one of the team’s largest liabilities coming out of the bullpen. In just 58 innings pitched, the 25-year-old posted a 5.59 ERA with five blown saves and 15 home runs allowed. 

Yet former Mets manager Carlos Beltran was expected to keep Diaz in the closer’s role. 

“Right now, the way that our bullpen is set up, the guy that we brought was Edwin Diaz to be the closer,” Beltran said in December (h/t SNY). “There’s no doubt that last year he had a down year. This year he’s been working really hard, he’s in great shape, so we expect Edwin to be in that position.”

Beltran didn’t get an opportunity to manage a single game for the Mets after being hired in November when the two parties went their separate ways after Beltran’s involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal of 2017. 

General manager Brodie Van Wagenen was able to bring in a candidate that could provide a considerable boost to the bullpen, inking former Yankees reliever Dellin Betances at the end of December. 

Coming off a year that was derailed by injuries, Betances only lasted two-thirds of an inning in 2019. 

When healthy, Betances is one of baseball’s most lethal late-innings arm and he did moonlight at times as the Yankees’ closer over the years with 36 career saves. 

Amongst other late-inning options, Seth Lugo picked up six saves as one of the Mets’ more valuable bullpen arms last season while Justin Wilson added four. 

Brad Brach also had experience closing games whilst a member of the Baltimore Orioles. 

Joe Pantorno