Mets can learn from Mariano Rivera’s injury on how to overcome Edwin Diaz loss –

There was a mythical quality to Mariano Rivera during his long heyday.

He was so good, so unflappable and so able to find calm and greatness in the most important moments that, over time, his presence was felt in games before he even walked in.

The Yankees played backwards: What do we have to do through eight innings to get Rivera the ball ahead?

He gave the entire team confidence and baffled opponents who played like they had 24 outs to win.

So when Rivera collapsed on the warning track at Kauffman Stadium chasing a fly ball during batting practice on May 3, 2012, it felt like the Yankees had lost a lot more than a closer for the rest of the season.

It felt like they had lost a style and substance that were hard to quantify and impossible to replace.

The first time since then that I’ve felt like a reliever brought those elements, in addition to personal excellence, was Edwin Diaz last year.

It wasn’t just his elimination material, but he had come off the canvas in New York, in NY — transform Citi Field from ninth-inning outcast to endgame messiah.

You could sense that other teams are desperate to avoid a ninth-inning deficit more than usual. And if the opening chords of “Enter Sandman” produced a certain euphoria and energy in The Bronx, the notes of Timmy Trumpet’s “Narco” did the same in Queens.

Edwin Díaz (39) tore his right patellar tendon after celebrating Puerto Rico’s 5-2 win over the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, likely ending his 2023 season.
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So when Diaz collapsed Wednesday in the middle of a celebration in the yielded infield at Depot Park in Miami after he struck out the team to eliminate the Dominican Republic and salvage a 5-2 World Baseball Classic win for the team from Puerto Rico, it felt like the Mets had lost a lot. more of a closer for the rest of the season.

Like Rivera, Diaz has a devastating right knee injury: a torn patellar tendon. And he feels like the Mets have lost a style and substance that’s hard to quantify and impossible to replace.

Mariano Rivera is taken off the field after being injured in 2012.
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Except these 2023 Mets should understand losing this player better than most clubs.

In 2012, the Yankees’ assistant general manager was Billy Eppler, who is now the Mets’ general manager. The player who hit the batting practice fly Rivera was chasing when he got hurt was Jayson Nix, who had just been called up to replace the injured Eric Chavez, who is now the Mets’ bench coach.

David Robertson was one of Rivera’s main trainers in 2012 and would be for Díaz in 2023.

And Buck Showalter managed the Orioles, who finished second in the AL East and lost to the first-place Yankees in the ALDS, in part because the Rivera-less bullpen, particularly Robertson and Rafael Soriano, he allowed just one run in 11 ¹/₃. entrance.

Rivera missed the rest of that season with a torn ACL, but the Yankees nonetheless went to the ALCS.

“One of the things that experience taught me in 2012,” Eppler recalled, “is that when you have the depth and you have strong areas of the club, whether it’s starting pitching, relief pitching, offense, defense, if you’re solid. or above average, then you can absolutely beat it.”

Rivera was 42 years old and contemplating retirement after that season (he returned in 2013 because he didn’t want his career to end with injury).

Díaz will turn 29 this Wednesday. But the season leading up to his injury has similarities.

In 2011, Rivera allowed three home runs in 61 ¹/₃ innings, racking up 2.9 wins above replacement (baseball benchmark).

Last year, Diaz allowed three home runs in 62 innings, racking up a 3.2 WAR.

Both eliminated endgame questions and anxiety at the highest level.

So how do you get over an injury like this? The 2012 Yankees were at the top of the AL East in which they, the Orioles and the Rays all won 90 or more games, similar to the 2023 NL East, and the Yankees were expected to win 90 or more games. Mets, Braves and Phillies excelled.

Those Yankees had the highest payroll in MLB and were beaten by the rest of the game for overreacting when, despite having Rivera and Robertson, they gave money as an elite closer (three years at $35 million) to Soriano (by the way , made by the property of GM Brian Cashman’s protests).

New York Mets relief pitcher David Robertson (30) could be the next closer.
New York Mets relief pitcher David Robertson (30) could be the next closer.
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Obviously, Steve Cohen has heard protests about increasing his payroll to a projected $370 million, in part, by awarding the largest relief contract in history (five years at $102 million) to Diaz.

Those Yankees and these Mets had complete teams, but those Yankees had a much longer pedigree of winning and therefore a strong internal leadership fabric. Will these Mets prove to have that?

“One thing that I really loved when I went there was the professionalism, whether it was a five-game winning streak or a five-game losing streak,” Chavez said of his one season with the Yankees.

“You just go to work and you know that no one is going to feel sorry for you. …I was thinking this: if you’re a good team and you take out a player and that makes you vulnerable, then you weren’t a good team. That’s how those Yankees felt, and I think that’s how we feel about depth here. It was very painful with Mo. It is very painful with [Diaz]. But you pick up the pieces and move on.”

Edwin Díaz is taken off the field after being injured in the World Baseball Classic.
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Joe Girardi, who managed the Yankees in 2012, said: “They understand [what has happened]they have guys who have been around the block, this is not a group of first- or second-year players.

“I’m sure Buck will talk to the guys one-on-one and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be okay. Yeah, we’re really going to miss him, but I believe in the other people in the clubhouse and we’ll be fine.’ And I’m sure he’ll do a very good job of doing it. And I truly believe that those early saves [during the regular season] become really important.”

Soriano ultimately surpassed Robertson as the 2012 closer, blowing only one save in the first 11 weeks after Rivera was injured.

“They have time to digest this [because the injury occurred in spring training]Girardi said. “But then those saves in April are going to be important, because you want to take the anxiety out of losing possibly the best closer in baseball.”

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