Edwin Diaz now has more saves in one season than any pitcher in Seattle Mariners history, passing Fernando Rodney with his 49th this year.
And it’s not even September.
Heck there’s still a week left in August.
This has Diaz in reach of the all-time single-season saves record held by former Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez, when he had 62 saves in the 2008 season.
Diaz, who is from Puerto Rico, sat the National League West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning on Friday, including the game-ending strikeout with one of his wicked sliders to get Daniel Descalso swinging before getting a hug from his catcher, Mike Zunino between the mound and home plate.
A closer has saved at least 49 games in a season only 19 times in major-league history, including Diaz reaching that mark Friday.
“I was thinking about the game, I wasn’t thinking about the record,” Diaz told reporters afterward. “I was just trying to do my job and get us out of here.”
But he now needs one more save for the most-anticipated haircut in Seattle. Manager Scott Servais made a bet with Diaz much earlier in the season that he would get the same haircut as Diaz, with the waves shaved into the side of his head, if Diaz saved 50 games this season.
DIaz was looking forward to that far more than a record.
“If I do it here on the road I will bring the barber to wherever we are playing,” Diaz proclaimed. “So we’ll see what happens. But if I get it tomorrow, we would get it in San Diego. So he has to be ready for the haircut.”
The Mariners have two more games in Arizona before heading to two games in San Diego and three in Oakland. So it’s very likely Servais gets a haircut before the Mariners return home to Safeco Field.
“It’s a phenomenal season he’s had,” Servais said. “And he’s done it a number of different ways. Some nights it’s the slider that’s dominant, some nights it’s the fastball. Recently the fastball has been outstanding. IT’s really, really nice to hand the ball to him. He’s been very consistent.”
And not many veteran closers are that consistent, let alone a 24-year-old like Diaz.
“He believes in his stuff and why wouldn’t you when you have that kind of stuff?” Servais said. “There will be some challenges down the stretch, but he looks strong right now.”
No major league closer is even close to Diaz’s saves mark. Boston’s Crag Kimbrel is second in baseball behind Diaz with 37 saves. Diaz also entered Friday ranking among major-league relievers in strikeouts, behind Brewers All-Star Josh Hader.
A 50-save season has only happened 16 times in major-league history, with the last being the Mets’ Jeurys Familia in 2016.
Diaz is on pace to save 61 games this year.