Edwin Diaz #39 of the Mets reacts after surrendering the...

Edwin Diaz #39 of the Mets reacts after surrendering the game tying run during the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field on Saturday, May 25, 2024. Credit: Jim McIsaac

When Edwin Diaz returns Thursday, the Mets will get their closer back, too.

Manager Carlos Manager revealed Wednesday that he will instantly re-install Diaz as the ninth-inning man, despite his struggles and ensuing stint on the injured list because of a right shoulder impingement.

The Mets’ thinking: Having the highly effective version of Diaz is central to them hypothetically saving their season prior to the trade deadline next month. So they will sink or swim as a team with Diaz sinking or swimming in save situations.

Plus, it’s not as if any of the Mets’ other relievers — Adam Ottavino, Reed Garrett, Jake Diekman, Drew Smith — have grabbed that opportunity.

“For us to make a run at this, we’re going to need Edwin Diaz to be Edwin Diaz,” Mendoza said. “We’ve been trying to piece it tougher for the past month or so. He feels good physically, mentally, so I’m comfortable with him going back to the closer’s role.”

Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner said: “We saw it last year when we lost him. It wasn’t the only reason we had the season that we had, but it was a reason. Similarly, this year, when he’s been good, we’ve won games. When he hasn’t been good, we have not won games. So we need him to be good.”

If Diaz is good, the Mets have a shot.

 

If Diaz is bad, it won’t matter much anyway.

Diaz hasn’t been good in a while. He has recorded just one save over the past nearly two months. In that time, he has a 7.62 ERA and has allowed batters to hit .302 with a .566 slugging percentage.

The Mets had removed him from the closing role — temporarily, they said from the outset — after a four-run, one-out meltdown in Miami on May 18.

Diaz has used his recent downtime to work on certain issues, Mendoza said, such as the shape of his slider and the location of his glove-side fastball.

“I don’t want to get into it too much, but everything affects everything,” Hefner said. “How you raise your hand, how you raise your leg, where your foot is placed — it all ties into the timing of the whole delivery. Just making sure everything was synced up.”

Mendoza said: “Little details there. But the biggest thing is he’s feeling really good not only physically but mentally as well.”

Perhaps most importantly, Diaz’s confidence is back, according to his Mets bosses. Mendoza said you can “see it on his face” as he goes about his day and that he isn’t “the same guy as when he was struggling.”

All along, the mental aspect seemed to loom larger than anything mechanical. Hefner reiterated Wednesday that pitching-wise Diaz “was not that far away” from what he was doing during a very good April.

“It’s not fun going through what he went through,” Hefner said. “Any human being is going to have those emotions. But he’s really good. Sometimes you need to be reminded of that.”

Senga’s latest step

Kodai Senga is due to face hitters — for the first time since early May — next week.

He completed his second bullpen session Wednesday and is lined up for two more before advancing to live batting practice, Mendoza said.

Asked if he expects to pitch in the majors this year, Senga offered a very quick “yes.”

“In my mind, that’s my plan,” Senga, who has been out since February with a strained right shoulder, said through an interpreter.

He seemed far more upbeat Wednesday than in weeks past.

“It’s a good sign that he was smiling after he got done throwing,” Mendoza said.

Senga said: “It’s really big that I feel good and I’m able to throw well now.”

Extra bases

Out of the lineup, Brandon Nimmo said he was fine. “It’s just [he is] sucking right now, get him out of there,” he said with a laugh. “See if somebody else can get it done.” Nimmo entered the day with a career-worst .217 average . . . In another lineup shakeup, Mendoza indicated that slotting Harrison Bader into the No. 2 spot was largely a product of facing a lefthanded starter and won’t be the regular setup. He also swapped J.D. Martinez (batting third) and Pete Alonso (fourth) . . . Christian Scott tossed 60 pitches in 3 2/3 innings (one run) for Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday. The Mets, seeking to limit his workload in the minors, have held him to that pitch count in both of his outings since they sent him down.

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