Reds need to follow Mets' lead with Edwin Diaz demotion and take action with Alexis

The Reds have no choice but to remove Alexis Diaz from the closer's role.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Alexis Diaz (43)
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Alexis Diaz (43) / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Alexis Diaz looks like a shell of the pitcher who went to his first All-Star Game in 2023. The Cincinnati Reds closer was on the losing end once again on Sunday, giving up the winning-run in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 3-2 extra-innings victory.

Diaz is now 1-3 on the season with a 7.02 ERA and two blown saves. The Reds' right-hander is walking far too many batters with a 16.3% walk rate. This is not the same pitcher who was David Bell's most reliable reliever last season.

Perhaps it runs in the family, as Alexis' older brother Edwin Diaz is scuffling this season as well. The New York Mets' closer is struggling mightily in his return this season. The elder Diaz is 1-1 with a 5.50 ERA and three blown saves in 18 appearances out of the Mets' bullpen.

The Reds need to follow Mets' lead and demote Alexis Diaz

Edwin Diaz is no longer the Mets closer — sort of. Mets' manager Carlos Mendoza told reporter that Diaz's role would be fluid. Diaz was considered the best closer in baseball two years ago and was paid like it with a five-year, $102 million contract.

In 2022, most fans will remember the reliever's bullpen entrance, punctuated by the trumpets playing in the background and the fans at Citi Field celebrating what they knew would inevitably result in a Mets win. Diaz was an All-Star that season and recorded 32 saves with a sparkling 1.31 ERA. Diaz blew just three saves in 61 appearances that season, but has already matched that total in 2024.

Edwin's younger brother is on a similar path. After posting 37 saves in 71 appearances last season, Alexis Diaz has fallen on tough times. His strikeout numbers are down, his walks are up, and his most potent pitch has been rendered ineffective.

The Reds need to do one of two things — send Diaz back to the minor leagues for a tuneup or follow the Mets' lead and take the closer tag off their 27-year-old reliever. Seeing as how there aren't many options to replace Diaz, sending him down to the minors would be a mistake. But demoting Diaz from the closer's role would be a wise choice on the part of Bell and Reds' coaching staff.

Who should replace Alexis Diaz as the Reds closer?

As far as replacements go, the options aren't great. While Fernando Cruz looked like a world-beater earlier this season, the Reds' right-hander has crumbled in high-pressure situations of late. Lucas Sims is another options, but the former first-round pick is carrying a 5.02 ERA and 14.8% walk rate.

Funny as it may sound, Buck Farmer has been Cincinnati's best reliever this season. But one has to wonder if Farmer is equipped to handle the high-leverage situation that comes with being a closer.

Maybe a true "closer" isn't what the Reds need at the moment. After all, a team needs to maintain a lead going into the ninth inning in order to call upon a closer in the first place. The Reds are in the midst of a horrific string of games in which they've lost 13-of-18. Cincinnati has a myriad of problems this season, but this one was unexpected.

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