PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 03: Edwin Diaz #39 of the New York Mets pitches in the ninth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on August 3, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The New York Mets escaped Sunday night with a victory, but their closer left the game before it ended.

Tab Bamford

Sunday night’s Mets game in Philly ended with yet another bizarre finish.

What appeared to be a game-tying three-run homer by Rhys Hoskins turned into a double, ESPN’s cameras catching Hoskins admonishing the umpires with a few choice words and then a heroic strikeout to end a big comeback win for the Mets.

Between the video replay of Hoskins’ two-run double and that finishing strikeout, Mets closer Edwin Díaz had a conversation with the team trainer and left the field. Jeurys Familia came in to record the final out and pick up the save.

After the game, Mets manager Luis Rojas defended his decision to bring in Díaz with a four-run lead. It was a non-save situation, but Rojas felt he needed his closer to take care of business in a game that saw both teams take advantage of mistakes and the Mets rally to take the lead late.

Sunday’s rough outing

Díaz has been good for the Mets this season. Entering Sunday night’s game, he hadn’t allowed an earned run since April 10, a stretch of eight straight appearances.

His outing in Philadelphia did not go well. Didi Gregorius walked to open the ninth, and Roman Quinn hit one-out triple to right-center. When it appeared Hoskins had left the yard with a game-tying homer, it was clear Díaz wasn’t right.

We found out later that Díaz’s back was stiff before he entered the game. Rojas admitted after the game that Díaz wasn’t able to finish his pitches because of the back issue, leaving the ball over the plate and the Phillies took advantage.

Which begs the question: why put Díaz in the game in the first place?

It wasn’t a save situation and the team’s closer wasn’t right. Though the team held on for the win, it could prove costly if Díaz misses time.

Now what?

With the Mets heading to St. Louis for a Monday night game and the team not having announced a starter yet, the potential loss of Díaz is amplifying a tough spot on the calendar for the team.

If Díaz can’t go, one would have to think Familia gets a shot at closing games (as he did on Sunday). He’s been pretty good to start the 2021 season, striking out eight in seven innings. He has also walked four, however, and allowed seven its. So get ready for a few blood pressure-raising days in St. Louis.

If Díaz needs to go on the injured list, the Mets could look to add a healthy arm to help a bullpen that has had its issues. But the preference is that the team’s closer, who has a 1.77 ERA since the start of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, is healthy enough to stay in the role.

The game of putting Díaz into the game with a stiff back may come back to bite the Mets in the tail. Hopefully it doesn’t lead to ongoing issues in a season in which they have hopes of a deep playoff run.