Colorado Rockies: Breaking down the 2019 debut of Jairo Diaz

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 22: Jairo Diaz #37 celebrates with Tony Wolters #14 of the Colorado Rockies after a 9-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 22, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 22: Jairo Diaz #37 celebrates with Tony Wolters #14 of the Colorado Rockies after a 9-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 22, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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Thanks to injury, the Colorado Rockies had to shuffle their bullpen before Wednesday night’s 9-2 road win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The shuffling allowed one of Colorado’s more interesting minor-league relievers to earn his first call-up in two years.

Jairo Diaz was brought up from Triple-A Albuquerque on Wednesday to take the place of Colorado Rockies closer Wade Davis, who was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left oblique strain. It marked the first Major League appearance for Diaz since July 24, 2017. Since that time, the 27-year-old right-hander has dealt with unthinkable tragedy, losing his wife to cancer.

We talked back in 2016 about what Diaz could potentially bring to the Rockies bullpen. We also talked in that article about he had battled his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Yes, Diaz has been through a lot, so it was no surprise that he said it was very emotional when he finally received the phone call from the Rockies to return to MLB.

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When he took the mound in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game, there was no doubt plenty of adrenaline flowing through his veins. That may be one of the reasons why he walked the first batter he faced, Bryan Reynolds. However, let’s take a closer look at that walk.

It was an eight-pitch at bat with Reynolds fouling off two pitches on a 3-2 count. The second foul was on a pitch clocked at 97.4 mph. The two sliders he threw during the at-bat were both balls. However, the first slider (at 88 mph) was right on the edge of the strike zone.

With Reynolds on first, Melky Cabrera entered the game as a pinch-hitter. Diaz fell behind 2-0 on fastballs before Cabrera flied out to left field. One out.

Next up was Elias Diaz, and Jairo Diaz proceeded to feed him nothing but sliders, jumping ahead 0-2 before getting him to fly out to center field. Two outs.

Kevin Newman stepped into the plate and was met with nothing but fastballs, including the fastest throw of the night from Diaz at 98.2 mph. On a 3-1 pitch, Diaz hit Newman to put runners at first and second.

Jake Elmore would be the final batter Diaz would face as he knocked a comebacker to Diaz on a 2-2 pitch to end the game. Four of the six pitches Diaz threw to Elmore were sliders but the game-ender came on a 95.2-mph fastball.

In all, Diaz threw 25 pitches and 13 of those went for strikes. Sixteen of those 25 pitches were fastballs while nine were sliders.

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There is still every reason to believe that Diaz could contribute heavily to the Colorado bullpen’s success this season. However, he will need to make sure that he can throw strikes. He has now walked 15 batters in 30.2 innings of work at the Major League level. If he can find consistency in the strike zone, his fastball and slider can be a weapon.

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