Bullpen Preview: The Closer


This is the final post in my preview of the Diamondbacks’ bullpen and we have reached the end of the line, or if you will the bottom of the ninth inning.  If you are Kirk Gibson, the D-backs manager and the game is close there is one name you are calling out of the bullpen, J.J. Putz.Putz had one of the best years of his 9-year career, setting a career high for saves with 45 and having his second-best ERA at 2.17.  Putz also had a WAR of 2.2 and a WHIP of .914. If he does not get injured, there is no doubt he sets career numbers in all of these statistical categories.

That is the one concern with Putz is his age and the amount of injuries he has had in his past.  Including the 2011 season, he has only topped 40 saves twice in his career, the only other time besides the 2011 season was back in 2007.  After that he had 15 saves in 2008, two saves in 2009 and three saves in 2010.  Another cause for concern is not many closers can continue their dominance much after 35 and Putz is at 35 years old.

I can see this going one of two ways and for the sake of Diamondbacks fans everywhere, we will start with the negative side first.  Putz could struggle, get injured and blow a ton of saves with his ERA skyrocketing to above 4.00 forcing Gibson to make a change and place David Hernandez in the closer role, thus shuffling a bullpen and putting guys in roles they are not used to, thus making a strong bullpen grow weaker.

The other way it could go is positive.  Putz could continue his dominance of the NL West and finish the season with at least 40 saves and an ERA of 2.50.  He anchors a strong bullpen and helps teach some of the younger pitchers the ropes and how to deal with the majors, thus making everyone around him better.  Now this is the way I see his season going as long as he can continue to avoid extended periods of time on the disabled list.

The Diamondbacks need Putz to have a season like last year, shut the door in the ninth inning and end the game the way it should, with a 1-2-3 opponents’ inning.  If he can do that, the D-backs will be NL West Champs for a second straight year.

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