Reds' pitcher Alexis Diaz needs to fix this one issue to become an elite closer

There's just one more thing that Alexis Diaz needs to refine.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Alexis Diaz
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Alexis Diaz / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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Alexis Diaz is one of the best relievers in the game. The Cincinnati Reds closer went to the All-Star Game in 2023 and is well on his way to perhaps earning another nod in 2024. Diaz has four saves in nine appearances out of the Reds bullpen this season and a 3.86 ERA.

Diaz gets a lot of swing and misses on his breaking ball. His 27.5% strikeout rate is a little less than his career-average (31.0%), but at this stage of the season, that's hardly worth complaining over. According to Baseball Savant, Diaz's expected batting average and expected slugging percentage are right about in line with the numbers he's produced over his career, both of which have been the top 5% in Major League Baseball.

But, despite all those accolades, there's still one thing that has escaped Diaz during his first two-plus seasons in the majors. If the Reds' reliever is able to conquer this demon, Diaz can then be called one of the elite closers in the game. But before that happens, Diaz has to cut down on the walks.

Reds' pitcher Alexis Diaz needs to fix this one issue to become an elite closer

Walks will haunt, and Diaz knows it. Free passes are a problem that has plagued Diaz since his rookie season. That year, Diaz posted a 12.9% walk rate, which was among the bottom 2% in the league. The following year wasn't much better as the Reds reliever put forth a 12.6% walk rate.

This season, however, Diaz is walking 15% of the batters he faces. That's means that about one out of every six hitters that steps into the batters' box to face Diaz will get to take a free base. Per FanGraphs, Diaz is currently walking a career-high 5.79 batters per nine innings pitched.

Diaz's fastball is about a mile an hour slower this season compared to 2023, so that may be affecting the 27-year-old just a bit. But nearly every other statistic is virtually right in line with what Reds fans have seen from Diaz since his big league debut in 2021.

Diaz is on the cusp of joining his brother Edwin as one of the elite closers in the game of baseball. If the younger Diaz brother is able to match his older brother in that category (8.7% career walk rate), Alexis will see his name among the best in the game.

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