Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners notebook: Closer Edwin Diaz is already making history

Mariners rookie closer Edwin Diaz reached 50 strikeouts faster than any pitcher at the start of his career since at least 1893.
Mariners rookie closer Edwin Diaz reached 50 strikeouts faster than any pitcher at the start of his career since at least 1893. AP

Simply put, new Mariners closer Edwin Diaz is already historically good.

By striking out the side Tuesday in preserving a 5-4 victory over Boston, and gaining his first career save, Diaz boosted his K count to 52 through 26 innings over his 25 appearances.

Strikeout No. 50 came in 25 1/3 innings and, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau, no pitcher reached 50 quicker at the start of his career since at least 1893.

That was eight years before the American League was founded.

"You’re watching it every night," manager Scott Servais said, "and it’s electric. It’s not easy to do that in this league. The hitters are so talented. They know where the barrel is. They know the strike zone. They see velocity.

"I think it’s a combination of his delivery and the life on the ball. The development of the slider has been huge. The swing-and-miss (factor) there. It’s a combination of things all coming together."

In addition to the strikeouts, Diaz has a 1.73 ERA, but he admitted his adrenaline was in overdrive when he entered Tuesday’s game.

"When I was running (in from the bullpen)," Diaz said, "I heard everybody screaming. That pumped me up a little more, too."

After a one-out walk, Diaz got a visit from second baseman Robinson Cano with a simple message: Calm down.

"We all know how good he is," Cano said. "But the first time as a closer, it’s tough for everyone. But he was the same guy."

Diaz struck out the next two batters.

"After Cano came to me," he said, "I started to relax. He helped me a lot. And…my first save."

Along with a piece of history.

ROTATION PLANS

Taijuan Walker and James Paxton will start Saturday and Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels, Servais confirmed, but who starts which day remains undecided.

Walker worked 4 1/3 innings Monday in a rehab start at Triple-A Tacoma that marked his first mound action since July 5 at Houston. He is recovering from tendinitis in his right foot.

Paxton allowed one run in eight innings Monday against Boston in a gaining a no-decision in a 2-1 loss.

Lefty Wade LeBlanc also appears likely to stay in the rotation after limiting the Red Sox to three runs over six innings in Tuesday’s victory. But he again figures to get extra rest before a projected start next Tuesday against Detroit.

PENDING ROSTER MOVE

With lefty Ariel Miranda already announced as Thursday’s starting pitcher, the Mariners must make a corresponding space-clearing move in order to recall him from Tacoma.

The odd-man out is likely to be Donn Roach or Cody Martin. Whichever one survives this cut figures to be optioned to Tacoma this weekend to accommodate Walker’s return from the disabled list.

The tentative plan is for Miranda to shift to the bullpen after Thursday’s start and, effectively, fill the swing role vacated by the July 20 trade that sent lefty Mike Montgomery to the Chicago Cubs.

REHAB PLANS

Shortstop Ketel Marte and right-handed reliever Nick Vincent are each heading to Short-A Everett to begin what project as brief rehab assignments.

Marte hasn’t played since July 17 because of mononucleosis and said he hopes to return to active duty by the end of the weekend. He batted .273 in 72 games prior to being diagnosed with mono.

Vincent is slotted for one inning Friday, which will mark his first game action since being sidelined by a strained muscle in his middle back after a June 26 appearance against St. Louis.

Club officials previously indicated Vincent is likely to make a couple of rehab appearances prior to rejoining the active roster. He had a 3.47 ERA in 35 appearances before going on the disabled list.

SATURDAY A SELLOUT

The Mariners say only a limited number of standing-room tickets remain for Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels, which will be preceded by ceremonies to retire Ken Griffey Jr.’s No. 24.

Standing-room tickets provide the holder with general admission to Safeco Field without an assigned seat or space. Fans with such tickets have access to all main- and view-level concourses and The ‘Pen in center field.

The cost per ticket is $40.

NEVER SAY DIE

Tuesday’s victory marked the ninth time this season that the Mariners rallied to win after trailing by at least three runs. That matches Texas for the most comeback victories when trailing by three or more runs.

"The fans ride the roller-coaster with us," manager Scott Servais said after Tuesday’s victory. "There are times when we are tough to watch. I get it.

"But you’ve got to keep watching because our guys don’t quit, and they believe in each other. And believe something good is going to happen. Tonight it did."

The Mariners, overall, have 23 come-from-behind victories.

POSTSEASON ODDS

Think the Mariners are poised for postseason push over the final two months? Here’s your chance to cash in: the latest odds from www.Bovada.lv, the online gaming service, lists them as a 50/1 shot to win the World Series.

That’s a downgrade from 40/1 odds on July 1. The Chicago Cubs currently rate as 7/2 favorites, followed by the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers at 13/2, and the Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals at 15/2.

Five clubs are "off the board": Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays.

Bovada also rates the Mariners as a 14/1 shot to win the American League West Division, which is actually better than a month ago when they were 20/1. Texas is a 1/3 favorite, followed by Houston at 9/4.

MINOR CITATIONS

Triple-A Tacoma’s Pat Listach was picked by his peers as the best manager in the Pacific Coast League in Baseball America’s annual "best tools" survey.

PCL managers also cited Rainiers first baseman/designated hitter Dan Vogelbach as having the best "strike-zone judgment." The Mariners acquired Vogelbach in a July 20 trade from the Chicago Cubs.

A former Rainier, Efren Navarro, was chosen as the PCL’s best "defensive first baseman." Navarro played with Tacoma until June 29. After being released, he signed with St. Louis and is currently playing at Triple-A Memphis.

MINOR DETAILS

Double-A Jackson right-hander Andrew Moore pitched a complete-game shutout Tuesday in a 1-0 victory at Montgomery (Rays). He is the first General to pitch a nine-inning complete game since Anthony Fernandez in 2012.

Moore permitted five hits while striking out four and walking none in a 95-pitch performance. He is 7-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 13 starts at Jackson since his promotion from Hi-A Bakersfield, where he was 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA in nine starts.

The Mariners selected Moore, 22, in the second round of the 2015 MLB Draft.

LOOKING BACK

It was 11 years ago Thursday — Aug. 4, 2005 — the Felix Hernandez made his major-league debut by allowing two runs (one earned) over five innings in a 3-1 loss at Detroit.

Hernandez was 19 years, 118 days at the time and remains the third-youngest player in franchise history. Pitcher Edwin Nunez was the youngest at 18-315 in 1982, and shortstop Alex Rodriguez was 18-346 in 1994.

Fourth on the list is center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. at 19-133 in 1989, followed by outfielder Chris Snelling at 20-173 in 2002 and current Mariners bullpen coach Mike Hampton at 20-220 in 1993.

SHORT HOPS

The Mariners have won nine straight games when a loss would have dropped them below .500. They have been at or above .500 since a 4-3 walk-off victory over St. Louis on June 24…former Mariner James Jones has given up, at least temporarily, on being an outfielder and is trying to reinvent himself as a pitcher in the Texas system. He is scheduled to pitch Saturday in the Arizona Rookie League.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Red Sox conclude their four-game series at 7:10 p.m. Thursday at Safeco Field.

Just-acquired lefty Ariel Miranda (0-0 with a 13.50 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma prior to the game to start against Red Sox left-hander Drew Pomeranz (0-2, 7.53).

The Mariners obtained Miranda from Baltimore in a trade last Sunday for left-hander Wade Miley. Miranda’s only big-league experience came July 3 when he gave up three runs in two innings to the Mariners at Safeco Field.

Miranda, 27, is a Cuban defector who signed with the Orioles in 2015. He was 4-7 with a 3.93 ERA in 19 starts at Triple-A Norfolk prior to the trade.

Pomeranz is making his third start for the Red Sox. He was 8-7 with a 2.47 ERA in 17 starts at San Diego prior to a July 14 trade that sent minor-league pitcher Anderson Espinosa to the Padres.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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