When the Mets made the deal for J.J. Putz this past off season, most of us applauded the move not only because it shuttle Aaron Heilman out of town, but because one look at Putz and you knew we were getting one of the most dominant closers in the American League.
So far this season, it hadn’t appeared like the Mets got the J.J. Putz they thought they bargained for. Not only did he suddenly look very hittable, but his mid nineties fastball was struggling to hit 90-91 MPH on the radar gun.
His velocity wasn’t the only thing that was down. His strikeout rate was down from 10.9 batters per nine innings, to 6.4.
All of a sudden the blame game started with Dan Warthen and Jerry Manuel blaming the WBC, and J.J. Putz going on WFAN and saying the loss of velocity was due to less adrenaline from pitching in a setup role instead of the closer’s role.
Well guess what? It seems like they were all wrong.
In his first appearance back since missing a few days due to a shot to help reduce some inflammation in his right elbow, J.J. Putz went out and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning and picked up his first save of the 2009 season.
More importantly than anything else though, was the fact that his fastball was alive and well and consistently lighting up the radar gun at 95 MPH.
Putz spoke to reporters after the game;
“Today, it felt like my arm was nice and free and easy and loose. It was almost like effortless to get through it. It felt good from the very first pitch.”
After that dominant one-inning performance, Putz roared his approval from the mound, and Mets Nation breathed a collective sigh of relief.
The league’s best bullpen, just got a whole lot better.