Diaz replaces Cishek as Mariners closer

August 3, 2016
Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Steve Cishek looks down as he sits in the dugout after giving up a home run and being relieved in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox Monday, Aug. 1, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE (AP) — Edwin Diaz will take over as the Seattle Mariners closer just two months removed from Double-A, replacing struggling Steve Cishek.

Manager Scott Servais announced the decision prior to a game Tuesday night against the Red Sox. Cishek blew a three-run lead Sunday in a loss to the Cubs then allowed a tiebreaking homer to Mookie Betts in the ninth inning of a loss against Boston on Monday night.

Diaz was promoted from Jackson on June 4 and has a 1.80 ERA in 24 appearances. The 22-year-old right-hander has struck out 49 and walked seven over 25 innings and held opponents scoreless in 20 of his appearances.

“I like to pitch under pressure. I feel more confident when it’s a close game,” he said. “I don’t know why but I feel really, really good.”

Diaz has thrown 8 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.

“I will do the same job I do in the seventh or eighth, get three outs and try to win the games,” he said.

Servais told Diaz and Cishek of the switch after Monday’s 2-1 loss.

“He looks like he’s ready to go,” Servais said of Diaz.

Servais said other relievers, including Cishek, may still be called on to close out games. Right now, though, Diaz is the go-to arm in save situations.

“He hasn’t backed off. He has been very aggressive,” Servais said. “He believes he belongs in this league. He certainly has produced at a level like he should believe he belongs here.”

Diaz’s fastball has peaked at 101.8 mph this season, according to BrooksBaseball.net , and he also throws a slider. Diaz credits veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit with helping him adjust to the big leagues. Benoit was traded to Toronto on July 26.

“Every start I learn something new,” Diaz said. “I try to put it into the next start. Right now, I feel 100 percent ready.”

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