Edwin Diaz parachutes into Safeco
as if we didn't have enough subplots in 2016


On a grander scale, we remember back in the dawn of the Internet Age.  When Hideki "Typhoon" Irabu was landing on the Eastern Seaboard and none of us had seen him.  He was reputed to have a 100 MPH fastball and about six different offspeed pitches, which, if true, would have made him not a Cy Young contender but good and sufficient cause for changing baseball's rules.

It was remarkable how little video was available on Edwin Diaz.  MILB.com had like two pitches' worth, taken from a range that would have gotten Mojician into the moose hunter's hall of fame.  YouTube had a couple of minutes' worth ... from behind the chainlink backstop, two years ago.  It was like watching a Cuban pitcher debut.  Is Diaz more control or is he more velocity?  Would he have eyes like saucers, or a false bravado like Roenis Elias, or a general Bambi demeanor like Brandon Morrow, or what?

There was no such video problem at Safeco.  The M's were down two but still in it.  Servais waved in his shiny new toy. Chris Gimenez stepped in and Diaz ...

(1) Leisurely fired a 96-MPH fastball into a teacup, low and away, 0-1.  He casually reached to Iannetta to take the ball back, leaned back, and

(2) Pulled the string on an 89-MPH slider, arm action 6 on a scale of 10, and the slider hit the same teacup.  0-2.  Dr. D is thinking paintball artist.   Then on pitch three

(3) Soriano, er, Diaz, screamed a 100-MPH fastball that he pulled outside.  1-and-2.

(4) Diaz got a slider up, 88 MPH, and Gimenez hit it sharply to Kyle Seager for an out.


Wow.  Well, that left Dr. D still kind of wondering "velocity or location?"


Tyler Naquin stepped in.  First pitch, 100 MPH challenge fastball, taken strike one.  We fancied that Naquin blinked several times.  Second pitch, 100 MPH challenge, taken strike two.  We fancied that Naquin closed his eyes and kept them closed.  Third pitch, 100 MPH challenge pitch, Naquin poked at the ball and came nowhere near it.  Ron Luciano, in Fall of the Roman Umpire, wrote that sometimes you literally cannot see a Nolan Ryan-type fastball.  "Anybody could hear that was low"...

Here, click this link and bask in the cell that is labeled [ Velo (max) ] by [ FF (four-seam fastball) ].  It's fun.  And let me know the next time you see that number, in that cell, for a pitcher.  ... I guess it woulda been more remarkable if James Paxton hadn't just thrown 25 of them earlier on the evening...

But imagine if Tony Zych or Tom Wilhelmsen or somebody had just thrown those pitches.  We'd be going, wow, here's our top closer.


Rajai Davis swung through an 89-MPH slider, 0-1.  He took another C-note for 0-2.  He foul-tipped a 101 fastball.  And when he managed to ground out on a slider, he trotted back to the dugout beaming.*

*not really.


Here's an article on Diaz' outing.  Servais and Iannetta had to yank on the leash a little bit, go "Whoa ho there, kid, journos, it's not as easy as that."  You saw the kid's demeanor.  He had his shoulder hunched and eyes narrowed, exactly like a boxer wading in with his chin protected.  Diaz obviously feared nobody; he threw every single pitch for a strike and happened to miss with one of them.

There were limitations.  This location chart, from a right hand side arm pitcher, isn't a finished product.  It's a kid coming in and saying "here it is, hit it."  When a kid does that, then that's what they're going to do, sooner or later.  But c'mon.  That location chart for a major league debut is pretty much ideal.  He can put the finishing touches on as he goes, like expanding the strike zone when he's ahead in the count.  

Diaz can certainly give us Strike One, that much we know.  Dr. D is not one to soft-pedal the value of a consistent strike one.


But, hey, Troy Percival and Fernando Rodriguez used to pitch like this too - every pitch a challenge pitch, just with some offspeed thrown down the middle too.  To throw like that, Diaz will need consistent 96+, but maybe for one inning he can.  One way or another, Diaz threatens to become the first top closer the M's ever brought out of their farm system.

That's kind of funny, isn't it?  That the biggest relief name out of the M's minors was like Mike Schooler or Shane Rawley or something?  Maybe we needed to bring Jerry DiPoto in sooner.


Speaking of.  Based on that one outing, Diaz did look to me more like an "impact reliever" than a starting pitcher - with that arm slot and those two pitches, it's easy for me to imagine Ervin Santana if he's 93 MPH in the rotation.  Or, a star if Diaz has 96 in the rotation or plus-plus command in the rotation, which seems farfetched.  That would be quite a platypus.

Just saying.  After one paltry inning's worth of 'im, the easiest visual is Santana in the rotation, or Rafael Soriano in the bullpen.  



Bottom line is --- > those looked like two pretty radical adds to the pitching staff Monday night, didn't they?  :- )


Dr D




10 strikes.

Right now the FB-Slider arsenal is precisely the way he should be pitching:  Simplify the game, slow it down, let his huge ability do its thing.

Did you see the shot of the M's dugout after the Hiway (101) pitch to Naquin?  Even Paxton was impressed.  He was laughing.  He just threw about a gazillion "lighting bolts" (stealing your simile, Doc) and he's doing the wide-eyed Wow at Diaz!!

Welcome to the bigs, kid.  

Carson whom?



Not sure why that seems so piquant.

They seem to want Paxton to throttle up .. .he seems like a genuinely effacing man.  Gotta love that in an athlete with those kinds of special gifts.


For some reason you've always had a nice touch for advanced linking and the pithy line to follow.  

Have bounced over to this thread a few times to conveniently enjoy Diaz' velocity.  That particular pitch, the more you see it, really does look like the Chapmanesque unhittable superfastball.  Paxton's heat was tremendous, but didn't look impossible to hit.  Diaz' did.

Funny - all the way up, Diaz got reported for his control.  You'd think with that kind of thunder, you'd hear more about it.  Camouflaged in the rotation, I guess, but wouldn't people know about it?

Guess DiPoto *did.*


Get the video you want on mlb.com, and there will be a little box that says "Embed"

Click there should open a box with text like this:

<iframe src='http://m.mariners.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=79308...' width='400' height='224' frameborder='0'>Your browser does not support iframes.</iframe>

Copy that.

Then "Disable rich-text" on your post or comment and paste that text in.  Then "Enable rich-text" again.

Should give you this:

Add pithy line like "nice slo-mo of the rising heat at 0:17" and you should be set.  Prior Klat platforms didn't work with "iframes" which is what all the mlb.com videos will give you for embedding.


Hm!  Clicked "embed" in Paxton's last vid, but absolutely nothing happened; no box opened or anything.  Same on an Iannetta HR video.  Using Safari.  Maybe I'll have to go through and check extensions and preferences?

I like your nested pitchy, er, pithy line :- )


Ballet-like in the way Taijuan brings the back leg to a pause in front, and then later sets the right foot down softly enough that he wouldn't crush a break.  That's nice balance on a followthrough.


Me, in the stands, to my wife as Diaz warmed up:

This guy can throw hard, but this is the first time he's ever pitched in the majors.  He's going to be so amped up he'll probaby have trouble getting it over the plate...

Wife, after the inning:

He didn't look like he was having that much trouble to me...



Some days you just wanna take a Jonathan Papelbon (48 starts in the minors with a 3.05 ERA and crushing SO and hit totals) and turn him into a flame-throwing pen monster without worrying about "time to adjust to the big league game" or "can he hold up for 200 innings every year?"

I expect Diaz to be a very good bullpen arm, just like Archer would have been or Chris Sale was before he was given his release papers and turned loose on the rotation.  Diaz's minor league stat-line is nearly identical to Papelbon's, and he and Archer have similar body types.  I would have let him and Taijuan duke it out for the young TOR spot, but the Mariners wanted bullpen help and they didn't trust that Archer Body. 

You make those calls and hope they work out.  Diaz should have a lot of fun detonating 3 batters every close - I just wanted to see him do that for 180 innings instead of 70.  Bring on his next appearance, please.  I'll be able to enjoy that kind of "disappointment" for several years for sure.


Glad you did, though.


I'm with you in principle.  Why not make Clayton Kershaw a Rivera-class closer?  Your logic makes me feel a little bit wan, now, about watching Diaz this year.


And wondering how open they are to checking out the Chris Archer scenario in future years.  If they were, then IMHO a year-and-a-half in the bullpen could be the best thing for his longterm career.


Gordon, do you have a prediction for how long it will take the M's to phase Diaz in to high-leverage innings?  Maybe doing the closer-in-waiting nuclear 8th innings by the playoffs, or by August, or ?


As long as they remember he never had a problem starting or going deep into games even as a skinny raw kid in the minors.  I'd like to crack him out of the pen in Spring 2018, but it may turn out like Papelbon and that just doesn't happen.  Either way, I'm glad we kept him and he'll be able to help the big-league club this year.  I'd have him in the 8th after the ASB if he can keep turning in similar outings.  He was spot-on in that appearance, even with the adrenaline.  Now he just needs to show consistency, and the ability to blow it by guys who know the heat is coming.  

I think he'll manage just fine.

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