J. J. Putz Will be Back in Arizona For Round 3 as the D’Backs’ Closer

By Thomas Lynch

Amidst all of the hoopla surrounding Saturday’s double-dealing by General Manager Kevin Towers, it was announced that the Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to pick up the $6.5 million dollar option on J.J. Putz’s contract.  The move was not unexpected as the club indicated that they were going to bring back the big righty for a third season in Phoenix.  There will be no Closer competition between Putz and newly-acquired Heath Bell as Towers made clear on Saturday.  Bell will be counted for the 7th and 8th innings with the occasional save opportunity in the event Putz is unable to go.

D’Back fans are hoping for about 40 of these pictures from J.J. Putz in 2013. Image: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

Although 2012 was not as good a year as 2011 for both Putz and the team, he did manage to record 32 saves and a 2.82 ERA.  He now has 77 saves in Arizona, good enough for second place in the club’s history in that category behind Jose Valverde’s 98.   2012 was also the third consecutive season in which Putz registered an ERA of under 3.00.  That is impressive when you consider that he struggled in April and May, finishing the first two months with an ERA of around 6.00.  As the weather heated up, so did J.J.  He appeared in 21 games total in July and August and was a perfect 14 for 14 in save opportunities with a 0.00 ERA.   Similar numbers next year will make D’Back fans feel comfortable with a lead in the 9th inning.

At 35, can he possibly turn in another good campaign in 2013?  That’s an iffy question.  On the one hand, relievers around Putz’s age can lose effectiveness in the blink of an eye.  On the other hand, that right arm has not thrown very many Major League innings (518 2/3 in 10 seasons).  A fourth straight sub-3.00 ERA will mean J.J. Putz will continue to anchor the deep D’Back bullpen.

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