Francisco Alvarez, Edwin Diaz’s looming returns could help Mets save season

Francisco Alvarez was behind the plate and Edwin Diaz was on the mound Sunday in Brooklyn and if the Mets have any chance of making a convincing argument that they shouldn’t sell at the trade deadline, that duo will have to play a significant role in the turnaround in Queens.

And there is a good chance Alvarez is back with the Mets Tuesday against the awful Marlins, when they open a homestand at Citi Field, with Diaz eligible to return this week, as well.

The Mets haven’t gotten nearly enough out of either player, with Alvarez out since injuring his thumb on April 19 and Diaz still on the IL with a right shoulder impingement.

Francisco Alvarez
There is a good chance Francisco Alvarez rejoins the Mets on Tuesday. Robert Sabo for NY Post

Even before Diaz hit the IL, the closer has not approached his typical level of success — particularly lately.

After a somewhat encouraging start to 2024, having missed all of last year with a torn patellar in his right knee, Diaz faltered badly.

In his last five appearances, the right-hander gave up eight earned runs, 10 hits and two homers in just 4 ¹/₃ innings.

He hasn’t thrown his four-seam fastball as hard as he did two years ago, when Diaz was brilliant and became a Queens sensation.

While a return to that level might be unrealistic, the Mets will be looking for the form Diaz showed in his first 10 appearances of the season, when he allowed just eight base runners in 9 ²/₃ innings.

He’s looked good in two rehab appearances with High-A Brooklyn and should provide a much-needed boost to a bullpen that has been ravaged by injuries and heavy usage.

But the return of Alvarez figures to have an even bigger impact on the roster, as the Mets have struggled offensively at the position, with a combined OPS of .595, 22nd in the majors.

The arrival of Luis Torrens to play alongside Tomas Nido has helped after they cut loose Omar Narvaez and Alvarez hadn’t gotten going at the plate by the time he went down with the torn thumb ligament that required surgery.

He homered just once in 59 plate appearances after putting up 25 a year ago and was just 3-for-19 in six minor league rehab games, but the Mets are hopeful a healthy Alvarez will heat up.

Edwin Diaz
Edwin Diaz struggled mightily before the Mets placed him on the injured list. JASON SZENES FOR THE NEW YORK POST

Coming back from their series against the Phillies in London, the Mets have won four of their last five games and on Monday were just three games out of a wild-card spot.

And team owner Steve Cohen noted over the weekend the team was not out of the playoff race.

Still, the fact remains the Mets are eight games under .500 and for long stretches have looked like anything but a postseason contender.

The presence of a former All-Star closer and a 22-year-old catcher who hit more home runs than any other player at his position in the National League a year ago should help.

So should a schedule that features the Marlins, who have the worst record in the National League, followed by the Padres at Citi Field and then road series versus the Rangers and Cubs.

None of those teams are above .500 and the next time the Mets are due to face a team with a winning record is when they host the Yankees later this month.

“I am focused on winning games right now,” team owner Steve Cohen said in London. “We can worry about the trade deadline, that is seven weeks away, that is 45-50 games and a lot can happen, so the focus right now is on the season and winning games and we’ll worry about [the trade deadline] when the time comes.”

Perhaps Alvarez and Diaz can change the equation.

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