By: Noah Wright
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Edwin Diaz and Blake Treinen are probably the best performing closers this season. The AL West rivals and all-stars may even get some Cy Young consideration too. Coming down the final stretch, Diaz and Treinen are going to be heavily relied on to hold leads that could help their team make The Playoffs. Lets compare the two right handers, and make a decision on which closer is the better of the two.
Edwin Diaz was a former 2012 third round pick, and top prospect by The Mariners. He was a closer in the minors, and there were even talks about they might utilize Diaz in a starter/swingman role rather than a late inning guy. Diaz has shown plenty of promise in seasons prior, but he’s cemented himself at the team’s closer with his amazing 2018 season. Diaz currently has a 1.97 ERA, 1.49 FIP, and .0781 WHIP in 64 innings. Edwin has also reached the 100 strikeout mark this season as well, with 108. Diaz’s preferials are also very impressive. He’s not a hard thrower that would be considered ‘effectively wild’, but effective and not wild. Diaz’s fastball can easily reach into the 100’s, but keeps walks to just 2.1 per 9, and has kept his strikeout rate above 10, at 15.2 K’s/9. Keeping balls in the park is another thing Diaz is good at, only givin up 4. Opponents are also not able to hit off of him, as his opponents only get a hard hit ball off of him 28.8% of the time. While he performs better against lefties, Edwin has kept right handers to a .164/.201/.242 line. Against left handed batters, he has kept them to a .149/.252/.213. Diaz is good at his job too. When it comes time to lock the opponent down when they’re threatening, he holds batters to a .173/.244/.253 line when runners on base, and a .156/.270/.281 with RISP. His most impressive feat this season may be that he has a shot to break Francisco Rodriguez all time single record, which currently sits at 62. Diaz has 50 and with a little over a month of the season left to go, it’s possible Diaz could reach above 62.
The former National relief pitcher and minor league starting pitcher was actually drafted by The A’s in 2011, but eventually was traded to The Nationals in a 3 team trade in the 2013-2014 off season. However Treinen eventually found his way back to The A’s in a Treinen+prospects for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson swap nearing the 2017 deadline. Treinen has an ERA below 1 (.95) , with a 1.76 FIP, and .939 WHIP in 66 innings. Like Diaz, Treinen’s fastball can easily reach 100+ mph, and also like Diaz, he’s not really ‘effectively wild’. Treinen has a 2.7 Walk’s/9 rate, and could reach 100+ K’s on the season, and currently has 89, and a 12.1 K/9 rate. Treinen has also just given up 2 home runs all season too. Blake has also kept opposing batters to a hard hit rate of 31%. Right handed batters only bat .119/.213/.167, and left handers bat a worse but still very very useful .231/.262/.282. In total, Treinen holds opponents in an overall .173/.236/.222 line. When it comes time to hold the opponent where they are, Treinen is also very very good at that. With runners on base, Treinen has held batters to a .181/.239/.248 line, and he’s even better when the opponent is threatening with RISP, and keeping them to a .094/.156/.316 line.
This was hard to decide. Each have their strengths, and weaknesses to the point where it seemed that it balanced each other out, and in other factors they were very similar. However I think I have to give the edge to Treinen. The big thing that gives him the edge in this argument to me is that ERA below 1. That’s not an easy thing to accomplish. Another thing that gives Treinen the edge is his clutch edge, which he’s just better than Diaz, especially with RISP. In the end, Blake Treinen gets the edge in a Treinen vs Diaz closer duel.