If Mariners want to lessen burden on Edwin Díaz, offense may be the answer

Jul 5, 2018, 4:30 PM
Mariners closer Edwin Díaz leads the majors in saves but also appearances this season. (AP)...
Mariners closer Edwin Díaz leads the majors in saves but also appearances this season. (AP)

The most frequent rumors about the Mariners’ plans ahead of the July 31 MLB trade deadline center around general manager Jerry Dipoto adding help to the pitching staff. But there is an alternative way the M’s could give their pitchers a boost: create more runs on offense.

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The Mariners lead the league in one-run wins (26-11) yet have just a plus-22 run differential, making for plenty of high-pressure situations late in games that to this point they’ve at least been more successful than not in. At 55-32, Seattle has the fourth-best record in the MLB and is second in the AL West – which is nothing to scoff at – but its run-differential is dwarfed by that of the Astros (plus-173), Yankees (plus-116) and Red Sox (plus-130).

That’s put a lot of responsibility on 24-year-old closer Edwin Díaz. He leads the league in saves (33) but also in appearances (45), something which 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk mentioned he is particularly concerned with. So what are the ways to minimize Díaz’s workload?

“Score more runs so he doesn’t have to go in there,” Shannon Drayer, Mariners insider for 710 ESPN Seattle, told Brock and Salk. “They can’t win by one run every night. … Maybe that gets better when Robinson Canó gets back. We’ll see. But I would imagine that Jerry is still going to be looking to add something to this rotation. If it’s a starter, then you’re not going to see the guy that’s going to be able to help out Edwin. If (Dipoto) can’t find the starter, maybe he does find somebody who can help out Edwin. But the quickest answer and what could help right now would be to put more runs on the board.”

Keeping Díaz healthy for the stretch run will be of utmost importance for the Mariners, which may mean setup men Juan Nicasio and Alex Colomé (or a trade acquisition) periodically getting the ball instead of Díaz in save situations. Then again, if the offense can create leads bigger than one or two runs by the ninth inning, that would also go a long way.

“They’re going to have to find a way to do it,” Drayer said. “Jerry Dipoto has gone out and he’s made additions to that bullpen, he’s added in the offseason Juan Nicasio and (in May) Alex Colomé. Two former closers, guys that you should be able to put in there when Edwin needs a day off. And we’ve seen it a couple of times. But you need to, especially in the second half, really be able to trust that arm (of Díaz) … but you’re not there right now. So the only way you’re going to get that now is if you don’t waste opportunities on the bases.

“The offense, they kept them in games in May and they got just that extra one run that they needed. (But) at some point, they are going to need to get bigger leads.”

You can hear the full segment with Drayer in this podcast of Brock and Salk’s Thursday show.

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If Mariners want to lessen burden on Edwin Díaz, offense may be the answer