LOS ANGELES — It is not yet panic time, but it’s getting closer for Edwin Diaz and the Mets.
Brodie Van Wagenen mortgaged a part of the team’s future to bring in the closer from Seattle, the AL Reliever of the Year last year who piled up 57 saves and pitched to a 1.96 ERA, thinking he had solved one of the team’s biggest problems.
Diaz was supposed to be the solution, but now he is just another Mets’ issue and he cost them top prospect outfielder Jarred Kelenic, who was promoted to High-A Modesto on Tuesday.
Here we are going into June and Diaz is not anything close to being the lockdown closer the Mets envisioned. He is 1-3 with two blown saves and a 3.22 ERA with 13 saves.
Sure, he could have just had another bad night Wednesday night when he surrendered four runs and two home runs in the Mets’ soul-crushing 9-8 loss to the Dodgers at Dodgers Stadium, where it is so difficult to finish off the Dodgers hitters. But that was his second blown save in five days.
He has been used a lot this season and had 149 appearances the previous two seasons. Is it all beginning to catch up to Diaz who called Wednesday night’s implosion “the worst day of my career’’?
“His slider is not as nasty as it was last year, it’s still a plus pitch, it’s still a good pitch, but he has such a violent delivery that you are going to have some times where you don’t catch your breaking ball all the time, and he is going through that now,’’ a scout who was at the game and has seen a lot of Diaz the past two seasons told The Post on Thursday. “Then the hitters can sit on the fastball and his location was a bit off when he doubled up on the fastball.’’
“They worked it against [Jacob] deGrom and [Noah] Syndergaard, these are power pitchers that are used to get a lot of chases, the Dodgers hitters don’t chase,’’ the scout said, offering insight into what makes the 37-19 Dodgers so dangerous, especially at home where they were 21-7. “They are disciplined hitters and that’s why they get a bunch of home runs, they’re a tough team.
“They let it fly at the plate but they let it fly in the zone, and they are better against power pitchers.’’
If you don’t locate against the Dodgers, you get crushed like Diaz did.
The Dodgers were extremely confident against Diaz, who faced them on Tuesday night, pitching the ninth and giving up one hit in a 7-3 Mets win. It was one of those nights when he really didn’t need to be used but that opened the door for the Dodgers for Wednesday night.
Edwin Diaz latest Mets pitcher to wilt under Dodgers power
LOS ANGELES — Crushed and mystified. That is how the…
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Trailing 8-4, Joc Pederson led off the ninth with a terrific at-bat before unloading on a 3-2 slider for a home run. Max Muncy then hit a fastball out of the park. Justin Turner doubled on an 0-1 slider and Cody Bellinger doubled to right-center on a 1-2 fastball to score Turner.
To be really successful against the Dodgers you have to change speeds like Steven Matz did Tuesday, but that is not part of Diaz’s arsenal. After a single by Matt Beaty, Alex Verdugo lifted a 2-2 slider for the game-winning sacrifice fly to left field.
“[Diaz] pitched [Tuesday] night and a couple of us faced him,” Beaty said after the win. “Joc came into the dugout and said [Diaz’s] fastball didn’t have as much life, so I think everybody was excited to get up there and do something good.”
That gave the Dodgers hitters confidence and they ran with it. It was an explosion. Diaz and Mickey Callaway both insisted that Diaz’s confidence was not shaken and the scout agreed, saying, “I’m sure he’ll get over it quickly.’’
Still, it’s crisis time already in the Mets bullpen. Seth Lugo will return Friday in Arizona and must be handled with care. Diaz will have to find a way to get over his slow start. With a slider that is not as impactful as last year, he is going to have to make some closing adjustments.