With Edwin Diaz Expected to be Out for 2023, Who Can Step in as the Mets Closer?

After what could be considered one of the freakiest baseball injuries to date, Mets closer Edwin Diaz’s 2023 is now over. The Team Puerto Rico star tore his patellar tendon in the team’s celebration after defeating the Dominican Republic on March 16, an injury that will require at least a six month recovery. With Diaz now out, the Mets will now need to rely on its in-house options, or a new addition.

Related: Cade Cavalli’s Injury is a Crushing Blow for the 2023 Nationals

In-House Options

We’re not going to go over Edwin Diaz‘s stats from last season in great detail — mainly because there’s no reason to. Among all relievers in the game that threw at least 40 innings, Diaz — our highest-ranked closer in MLB entering the year — owned the highest K/9 (17.1) in MLB. It was a figure that nobody really came close to in 2022. LHP Josh Hader owned the second-best K/9 rate at 14.6, followed by Phillies lefty Jose Alvarado (14.3).

Diaz’s dominance last season was nothing short of impressive. The 28-year-old bled hitters dry with his devastating and hard-to-pick-up slider, a pitch he used much more that in the past. The reigning NL Reliever of the Year became the premier stopper in the game, but now Mets fans and the team will now need to figure out life without the electric closer for 2023.

Right off the bat, the in-house favorite for saves has to be David Robertson. Robertson, who accrued 20 saves last year and 157 over his career, made an impressive comeback last year. The veteran righty found renewed success with his curveball, a pitch that he used 26.9% in 2022 — the most he’s used the breaking ball since 2018. To not much shock, Robertson posted his best season last year since that 2018 campaign, in which he struck out 91 over 69.2 innings.

Robertson makes the most sense to be Buck Showalter’s favorite in high-leverage situations, but relievers Brooks Raley and Adam Ottavino could also see save chances.

Outside of the Organization

Per reports, the Mets will be scouting LHP Zack Britton this week. The veteran arm has plenty of experience as a closer with the Baltimore Orioles, where he pitched for Showalter. On the other hand, one has to wonder how much gas Britton has to offer. Britton missed most of 2021 & 2022 due to injuries, and didn’t look good when he came back late last year. Across three games (0.2 IP), the 35-year-old walked six and had diminished velocity on his heater.

New York could also look towards other notable free-agent arms like Ken Giles and Corey Knebel. The former did throw for teams earlier in the year, but has yet to ink a deal for 2023. Knebel, meanwhile, had an interesting 2022 in Philadelphia. The former All-Star pitched well in spurts, but struggled in August before being shut down due to a lat strain.

If the free agent market doesn’t suit the Mets, a trade would be the other alternative. However, it’s going to be hard to get a reliever from a team at this stage of the season without giving up a premium. Reds closer Alexis Diaz would make sense for obvious reasons — age, controllability, a chance to pitch on the same team as his brother — but he wouldn’t come cheap.

One team, though, that could be one to watch is the Royals. Kansas City does have a couple of interesting arms in Scott Barlow and Dylan Coleman that would be nice fits on a contender. But again, the price won’t be small.

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