From a WBC mishap to season impact: How Edwin Diaz’s knee injury may impact the Mets, NL East

A glorious moment for Puerto Rico came to darkest hour of spring for Edwin Diaz and the New York Mets. The ripple effects can last for the entire upcoming season.

Diaz, the Mets’ standout finisher whose $105 million contract was a crucial part of the club’s massive offseason spending in hopes of a World Series run, collapsed amid Puerto Rico’s celebrations after winning the Dominican Republic had eliminated in the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night.

X-rays of his right knee proved inconclusive, but his pain, the reaction of startled spectators and his inability to leave the field under his own power all pointed to a significant injury to his right knee. Follow-up MRIs and other tests from the Mets will determine the severity in the coming days.

It’s a blow to his Puerto Rican brothers and his Mets teammates. Here are the longer-term effects:

A WBC black spot?

team The US stars downplayed the concept that Diaz was injured in an event that, depending on your perspective, falls somewhere between glorified exhibition and full-blown international competition. It could have happened anywhere, they said after joining Puerto Rico in the WBC quarterfinals.

Edwin Diaz is helped off the field after injuring his knee during Puerto Rico’s celebration against the Dominican Republic.

And they are right. Just look at the man who will be at least partially tasked with replacing Diaz when his injury ends the season.

UH-OH: Don’t blame the WBC, Edwin Diaz’s injury was simply a “freak accident.”

David Robertson was a key member of the Phillies’ bullpen during their postseason run to the World Series last fall. Still, he had to sit out the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves.

Why? Well, Robertson was injured jumping a dugout railing to celebrate an important home run by Bryce Harper in the NL wildcard series. Robertson injured his calf and sat out the NLCS and returned to save a game in the World Series.

Stories like this abound in baseball, affecting seasons and careers. Slugger Kendry’s Morales was never quite the same after suffering a serious ankle injury and demonstratively landing on home plate after hitting a walkoff grand slam in a 2010 game. Sure, Diaz probably won’t suffer that injury if he shows up in a Grapefruit League game in Port St. Lucie, but that’s beside the point.

Something happens whether you wear the colors of your country or the team that pays you. And you can’t wrap ballplayers in bubble wrap any more than you can the planet from an asteroid.

What’s next for the Mets?

Oddly enough, Robertson is now part of that equation. After he posted a 2.40 ERA in a bounceback season in Philly, the Mets signed a one-year, $10 million deal to add more depth to the bullpen. It was an easy move to forget after Diaz guaranteed $105 million New York guaranteed after his absolutely dominant 2022 season in which he defeated 118 batters in 62 innings.

Another WBC reliever, Adam Ottavino, also signed in the offseason, but Diaz’s injury means he moves up the pecking order, from seventh-inning type to likely build-up Robertson. It’s perhaps in the deeper reaches of the New York bullpen where that loss would be felt most, especially at this very late stage of the offseason when almost all helpers are off the market.

Does this change the image of NL East?

The Braves and Mets each won 101 games last year, and the Phillies’ continued build-up raised the specter of three teams shooting for 100 wins and a division title.

That hasn’t changed.

Dominant as he is, Diaz still only controls one inning of the game, albeit the most important. The Mets still won all of those games last year, with ace Jacob deGrom being sidelined more than half the season and Max Scherzer sidelined with an oblique injury.

The fate of the team will still largely depend on how Scherzer and import Justin Verlander fare, along with Tylor Megill’s ability to hold down the rear end of the rotation while Jose Quintana recovers from rib surgery.

you will hit. When healthy, they still have a dominant rotation. They probably just have to figure out the most important inning of all after a dismal and unforeseen evening that could have happened almost anywhere.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How Edwin Diaz’s knee injury at WBC changes Mets chances in NL East

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