When the Mets traded for J.J. Putz, they envisioned K-Rod and Putz teaming up to lock down the last two innings of a game, no matter how small the lead.
While K-Rod is 9-for-9 in save opportunities with a 1.08 ERA, things haven't come as easy for Putz.
The former closer and current setup man has a record of 1-2 with an ERA of 4.05 and a blown save in his only opportunity; he's allowed at least a run in five of his last 10 outings.
Putz has stated that he's struggling in his new role as a setup man; the velocity on his fastball is down a few miles an hour, and he blames that on the lack of adrenaline from not closing out games.
Today, Putz was called upon in the eighth inning of a tie game, at home, against a division rival, with their best hitters coming to the plate, and if that doesn't get his juices flowing then nothing will. Once again, Putz struggled by allowing the go-ahead run on two hits; had it not been for Gary Sheffield, Putz would have been a much bigger goat in today's loss.
According to Kevin Burkhardt, Putz says he’s having trouble getting extra life on his fastball in the eighth-inning role. I have no reason to doubt Putz, but I wonder if all his appearances so far have affected him, too. Source: Metsblog
For those who are conspiracy theorists, here's an interesting twist: Putz would have to be a premier set-up man for the Mets to pick up his $8.6 million option, but the only way he could maintain his value as a closer is if he attributes his struggles to not closing...
For Putz to be worth $7.6MM+ net next year, he'd have to be one of the game's top setup men. That has not been the case so far, as his K/9 is down to 5.7 and his BB/9 still high at 4.7. His average fastball velocity is down a full 2 mph from last year. Source: MLBTR