LOS ANGELES — A day after “easily the worst game of my career,” as Edwin Diaz put it, he didn’t have any real answers about his four-run disaster in a loss to the Dodgers. But he also didn’t seem to be worrying about it too much.
More of a turn-the-page-quickly type, like so many premier relievers, Diaz reiterated Thursday he was comfortable with the pitches he made Wednesday, even if the Dodgers hit those pitches hard.
“It’s tough when you are happy with how you throw the ball and things don’t go your way,” Diaz said. “It’s tough when you have an outing like that, winning by three runs and blow the game.”
Diaz declared himself unavailable to pitch Thursday against the Dodgers, a logical off day given his recent workload. His 30-pitch blown save was his second appearance in as many days and his fourth in five days.
His velocity has held up in that span, the four-seam fastball averaging about 97 mph.
“I’ve been pitching a lot, but I feel great,” Diaz said. “My velo got better each [game]. I got to keep working and do my best any time I go to the mound.”
Several statistical trends suggest Diaz has regressed from his All-Star 2018 form. His 3.22 ERA is significantly higher than his 1.96 mark from last year, though it’s worth noting it was 1.64 before the outlier outing Wednesday, when four earned runs matched his season total entering the night.
But Diaz has also seen a drop in his strikeout rate (44.3 percent of batters last year to 36.1 percent this year), as well as an increase in opponents’ batting average (.160 to .247), FIP (1.61 to 3.99) and hard-hit rate (29.3 percent of batted balls all the way up to 55.6 percent).
Diaz’s attitude won’t change.
“One bad game,” he said, “can’t change your mind.”
Count manager Mickey Callaway among those in favor of major-league ballparks expanding their protective netting farther down the foul lines.
“I believe in protecting all fans,” Callaway said. “That’s something I'm sure Major League Baseball is very passionate about and do everything they can to protect people.”
On Wednesday, the Cubs’ Albert Almora sent a hard foul ball into the stands in Houston, striking a little girl who had to be hospitalized. Almora was visibly shaken by the incident, which re-started the conversation about the degree to which teams protect fans sitting in spots prone to line drives.
Ahead of the 2018 season, every team voluntarily expanded their netting to at least the far edge of both dugouts. MLB has not made any actual rules to that effect.
Ramos off again
Although Tomas Nido started at catcher Thursday for the second time in four games, Callaway said there is nothing wrong physically with Wilson Ramos.
“We just wanted to line up our catching for the next four, five days before the next off day [Monday],” Callaway said. “We felt like today was a good day for him to take off.”
Seth Lugo (right shoulder tendinitis) remains on track to be activated as soon as Friday. That would be a desperately welcomed addition to a Mets bullpen that has struggled in the week and a half that he has been out … The Mets plan to play first baseman Dominic Smith in leftfield more frequently against righthanded pitchers. Could that push Jeff McNeil, who transitioned from the infield to left during spring training, to centerfield? The Mets never say never, but don’t bet on it. “We won’t ever rule out anything,” Callaway said. “We do value defense as well, so to put multiple guys out of position is tough.”