PHILADELPHIA — A years-old bone spur in Edwin Diaz’s right elbow has nothing to do with the Mets’ rigid use of him, Mickey Callaway said.
That apparent inflexibility found the spotlight in the win against the Phillies on Monday, when Callaway saved Diaz for an 11th-inning save, staying away from him during several earlier opportune moments.
“It's not health-related,” Callaway said Tuesday. “It's just setting guys up for success.”
Diaz has had a bone spur in his throwing elbow his entire professional career, but he and the Mets have downplayed its significance whenever it has come up since he joined the Mets along with Robinson Cano in a December trade with the Mariners. Diaz has never been on the injured list and has handled a heavy workload, including 73 1/3 innings in 2018, throughout his major-league career.
The Mets’ thinking, according to the Mets, has more to do with making sure that remains the case. As a way to protect Diaz, they are steadfast in their refusal to use him 1) before the ninth inning 2) for more than one inning and 3) in a tie game on the road. (An exception: the playoffs.) Those conservative philosophies — more rules than rules of thumb — run contrary to Callaway’s tendencies a year ago.
“He had a lot of success in the role he was in last year,” Callaway said. “We feel that him having that role for us — like he did last night, he came in and struck three guys out and looked electric — is going to be the spot we feel like we need to put him in. He's done a great job so far.
“He will do whatever you ask. That kid is a total professional. If we asked him, I'm sure he'd go out and do it. We just don’t think that’s necessary at this point.”
A less familiar Familia
Exacerbating Diaz’s limited usage: Jeurys Familia, the Mets’ top setup man, has not been good this year, posting a 6.48 ERA, 2.16 WHIP and nine walks to 10 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings.
Callaway said Familia has been unlucky.
“That’s kind of the M.O. of ground ball, sinkerball pitchers,” Callaway said. “You’re kind of at the mercy of where those ground balls go. You can’t steer where the person hits it. You can just execute a pitch and get your ground ball and live with the result.”
Callaway said the more frequent walks are a separate issue that needs to be fixed, but: “He’s going to figure it out. He always does.”
The Mets’ belief in Familia and others is one reason they say they’re comfortable using Diaz the way they are.
“It’s a trust thing we have that our players are going to get the job done and let the closer that we’ve named go ahead and do his job that night,” Callaway said. “That way everybody understands and expects what’s going to happen.”
The Mets are pleased with the way Wilson Ramos is helping control the running game, Callaway said, even though baserunners were 11-for-13 against him entering play Tuesday. That 15-percent success rate is about half of Ramos’ career rate and the major-league average this year (both 31 percent). “If they’re happy, I’m happy too,” Ramos said … Early word on the convenience of the Mets’ Triple-A switch from Las Vegas to Syracuse is positive. Paul Sewald and Drew Gagnon gave rave reviews to their trips from small northeastern airports to join the Mets, compared to the cross-country flights they dealt with last year.