Two weeks ago, Dave Cameron speculated that J.J. Putz was hurt, based on his bad ratios and decreased velocity. Mets fans reacted harshly at the time, preaching a lesson most rarely heed: patience. Well, since then Putz hasn't looked much better. His average fastball velocity, 93.1 MPH, is a full two ticks below his 2008 mark, when he was rehabbing from surgery, and three MPH less than his 2007 speed. His K/9 is an awful 5.68 and his BB/9 an equally disappointing 4.74. What's worse is that the problem may be indicative of a larger trend:
(Fastball Velocity, Swinging Strike %, Swings on balls outside the zone%, Contact%)
While this chart doesn't indicate a steady decline, he certainly isn't getting better and this year looks far and away to be his worst. The problem is no mystery: he's not throwing hard enough and he's getting hit hard. That, combined with bad control, and he's pitching like a mop-up man at best. His illusory sub-4 ERA is being sustained by a .252 BABIP and only one homerun so for, neither of which are sustainable if he continues to pitch to contact. His tRA of 4.89 is second worst in the bullpen to Sean Green's. He looks hurt, and regardless of whether he is or not, it's time to take the 8th inning out of his hands and give it to Parnell full time.
And despite many people, including Omar Minaya, thinking the Putz trade was a huge steal, it looks like the joke's on the Mets. The Mariners sent us damaged goods, while Mike Carp OPSes 1.013, Endy Chavez has already been 6 runs better than Gary Sheffield , and Jason Vargas looks like the back-of-the-rotation starter we so desperately need. Woops.