Closer J.J. Putz
It is time to take a look at J. J. Putz. We all know he had an amazing comeback year in 2011, notching 45 saves and a 2.17 ERA. He was one of the main reasons the Diamondbacks won the NL West in 2011. He did that while missing most of July on the disabled list. Even more amazing, he put up 21 saves between August and September. As the 2012 season was ready to begin there was talk that Putz was not going to match his outstanding 2011 season and David Hernandez was eventually going to be named the closer. Here are some “paraphrased” comments said about Putz prior to the start of the season: “Putz is a good closer, but his career has been plagued with injuries and inconsistency.” “He is 35, which is considered old for a closer.” “His stuff will certainly fade as the season goes on.” “The concern with Putz is his health. If his arm ’isn’t right,’ the Diamondbacks will struggle.”
Putz posted a 6.35 ERA through the first two months of the season and seemed to be in danger of losing his hold on the closer’s role. Manager Kirk Gibson did not listen to the media and the fans when the talk turned negative about J. J. There was even talk of trading him before the July 31st deadline. Gibson continued to have Putz close games for the Diamondbacks.
Let’s take a look at J. J. since the end of May:
Putz made some minor adjustments to his mechanics in late May, that seemed to put him back in synch and his effectiveness improved. Since then he has bounced back from blowing three saves earlier in the season. Since the start of June he has only allowed two runs in over twenty plus innings of work and he has made sixteen straight scoreless appearances. He hasn’t given up a run since June 19th and he has converted each of his last thirteen save opportunities. He secured his thirteenth consecutive save during Sunday’s contest against the Washington Nationals. Putz relieved Takashi Saito in the ninth inning and needed to get two outs to secure his 22nd save in 25 chances on the season in a 7-4 victory. He struck out one and needed just fourteen pitches while dropping his ERA down to 3.35 on the year. He certainly has become a “mainstay” for the Diamondbacks pitching staff.
The Diamondbacks have s $6.5MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout for 2013 on him. J. J. has a great locker-room attitude. He is the team’s main prankster and keeps his fellow teammates “loose”. It would be wise for the Diamondbacks to keep him around for the 2013 season.
The Diamondbacks go out on the road for six games starting Tuesday. They have three with the St. Louis Cardinals and then three with the Houston Astros before coming home for a ten game home stand starting August 20th. I hope to see you at the ballpark.