When Buck Showalter was asked what he has learned about Edwin Diaz this year, he answered with a speed befitting his hard-throwing closer. “He ain’t scared,” Showalter immediately said.
Successfully closing out games, often in high-leverage situations, takes a certain personality type. It’s fearlessness and finesse, like a trapeze artist in flight.
But there’s more to Diaz’s success. When he came to the Mets and appeared to wilt in the limelight, he wasn’t scared then, either. When he was booed, he didn’t try to scurry away like the legion of other players who, either fairly or unfairly, often get stamped with “can’t play in New York.” And for that, he’s an All-Star again.
Diaz was one of four Mets named to the All-Star Game on July 19 at Dodger Stadium, along with Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil and Starling Marte. It’s the first time they’ve had four representatives since 2016, and they’ve never had more than six. It’s the second nod for all four Mets.
“It’s really special,” Alonso said of all the company. “We have one of the best teams in baseball and our team is super-talented. We should have that many guys. We have an excellent team.”
Diaz retired the Marlins in order in the ninth Sunday on seven pitches, striking out two. He’s struck out 70 of the 139 batters he’s faced this year and is pitching to a 1.78 ERA after starting his career with the Mets in 2019 with a 5.59 ERA.
This technically is Alonso’s third trip, as he’s been to the Home Run Derby (and wonit ) twice before. He wouldn’t yet say if he’ll participate this year.
Showalter also believes it possible that Taijuan Walker will get named to the team (Walker represented the Mets in 2021) as managers round out their rosters and other players inevitably opt out.
McNeil was all smiles after learning of his nomination. He has the second-highest WAR of any NL second baseman, according to FanGraphs (2.5 to starter Jazz Chisholm Jr.’s 2.6) but wasn’t even a finalist in fan voting.
Showalter said: “I think it means as much, if not more, that the players voted him in.”
Though he was headed to the paternity list after Sunday’s game, McNeil had some lofty goals for his firstborn. “Baby’s first game might be the All-Star Game,” he said, probably joking.
Said McNeil, “Last year was a tough year for me. To have a bounce-back season and be recognized for that is special to me.”
Marte, meanwhile, was off getting an MRI on the groin he injured Saturday. He was the last of the Mets to learn of the honor.
“It’s one of those things, you’re almost too close to it,” Showalter said. “There’s that consistency that you get every day from him and, from afar, it’ll tell you how much he’s respected around the game.”
Added Marte: “It was an emotional moment. It’s been something me and my family had been speaking about.”
Diaz and McNeil said they hope to watch Alonso defend his home run title, though Diaz had a few other things to look forward to, too.
“I want to face the best hitters, I want to challenge them,” he said (he already has struck out Mike Trout this year). “I want to go out there and have fun. I don’t care if I go out there and give up a couple runs, whatever. I just want to have fun. I want to challenge them and hopefully face the [best] three hitters in the American League …Maybe I can face [Aaron] Judge . . . [Yordan] Alvarez, [Shohei] Ohtani — those guys would be awesome.”
Edwin Diaz: not scared, not even a little.