With a 6.00 ERA, J.J. Putz can likely be taken from an owner looking to solidify his ERA and WHIP in standard formats. Of course, he is owned for his saves, so swapping a lesser closer who is over performing — Matt Capps and maybe Brett Myers, for instance — could be necessary in some leagues.
The big worry around Putz is his injury history. He has missed large potions of seasons in the past and has dealt with neck stiffness at times this year, but the likelihood that he gets injured is not significantly higher than the likelihood that another closer gets injured or spurts out a few bad performances and loses his job. I would be slightly cautious about his injury history, but do not see it as a big enough worry to deter me from attempting to acquire him.
What’s to like about Putz is his stellar strikeout-to-walk ratio. He currently has a 5-1 K/BB rate, which is much better than his career rate of 3.26. Where Putz has been hurt is in his .340 BABIP, against a career average of .281. The high BABIP in addition to a 17.4% HR/FB rate, which would represent a career high if the season ended today, are signs of poor luck that should eventually straighten out if all else remains equal. Putz is a quality arm and was a top flight closer last year, so 18 innings of a high ERA with very good peripherals does not worry me very much.
In league’s with more advanced owners, it may be slightly more difficult to convince them to part with Reed. He is young, was recently moved into the closer role, and has a rather respected name for a pitcher with just 26 major league innings. Even so, his 4.82 ERA may cause some owners to look for a more secure closer rather than the youngster who does not have a choke hold lock on the closer role.
Reed’s 2.92 FIP is very impressive, though his 4.13 xFIP does leave reason to worry. Almost half of the batted balls against him have been fly balls, but has just a 4.0 HR/FB ratio. Even so, his SIERA of 3.24 suggests that his performance should be pretty solid going forward and his xFIP is actually exactly league average according to xFIP-. The White Sox have decided to go with his fastball at a very high rate, as he throws it on over 80% of his pitches, which could be a reason for his high BABIP.
Although there are about equal signs that say Reed should regress as there are that say his production to date accurately portrays his performance, I still believe his numbers should drop and that he represents a good buy low candidate as a closer. The strikeout-to-walk rate of 2.63 is not world shattering, but a pitcher who can strikeout over 10 batters per nine with a 25.6% strikeout rate usually ends up being a pretty productive pitcher.
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