When the Mets acquired J.J. Putz from the Mariners in a three team, 472 player deal, they believed they had found the relief ace to bridge the gap in the 7th and 8th innings and help them hold on to late inning leads. Putz had been one of baseball’s elite closers for several years, and his power fastball/splitter combo made hitters look silly.
Unfortunately for the Mets, they apparently aren’t going to get the guy they thought they were trading for, because this version of J.J. Putz isn’t particularly good.
His average fastball is down to 92.5 MPH, 2.5 MPH slower than he was throwing last year while recovering from an injury. Those missing miles per hour have made a huge difference in his performance as well – he’s now thrown 11 innings while walking six and striking out just four batters. His K/9 is 3.27.
Huge decline in velocity and a massive drop-off in strikeout rate are two of the main red flags indicating that a pitcher isn’t healthy. Putz spent time on the DL last year with a ribcage injury, but clearly wasn’t himself all season, struggling with serious command issues and only occasionally flashing his previous form. That he is still trying to pitch through an injury would not be any kind of surprise.
The Mets are going to have to get him checked out. They can’t keep handing the ball to a guy who throws like a power pitcher but has lost his power. That’s a recipe for disaster, and it cost them a win today against the Marlins.