May 7, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher J.J. Putz (40) leaves with the athletic trainer in the ninth inning after suffering an apparent injury while pitching against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Three years ago the Arizona Diamondbacks signed right-handed reliever J.J. Putz to be the closer of the foreseeable future. The D’backs needed someone who could stabilize that role and they looked to J.J to do just that. For the first two years, it worked out great. In 2011, Putz saved 45 games for the 2011 N.L West Championship team, putting together arguably one of the best seasons any reliever has had in a Snakes uniform. In 2012 he saved 32 games for a team that finished with a .500 record and missed out on the postseason. However 2013 didn’t go as planned with many wondering if Putz still has a role in the D’backs’ pen as Arizona gets set to start yet another spring training.
How 2013 went: J.J had his worst season as a D’back in many regards. He blew four saves in April alone signaling to the organization that he just wasn’t the same pitcher of the previous two seasons. He had lost the life on his fastball and the command for his slider. So the team had to do the unthinkable. Instead of sending him down to the Minors, they removed him from the closer’s role, something nobody expected coming into 2013. However the bad news didn’t stop there for J.J. as devastating knee injury suffered in May kept him out for most of the rest of the season. That was his 2013 season in a nutshell.
Outlook for 2014: Putz expects to compete for either the 7th, 8th, or even 9th inning role depending on how he performs in Spring Training. However with the addition of Addison Reed and health still a factor expect him to land the 7th or 8th inning role if he even is still on the team. Rumors have been flying around that he could be traded for Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo or Yankees OF Ichiro Suzuki. Now that I think about it, Suzuki isn’t the best option and Gallardo is unlikely so expect J.J. to be on this team probably in the 7th inning role at the start of the 2014 campaign.