Arizona Diamondbacks: J.J Putz Out, Heath Bell In
Thankfully, the Arizona Diamondbacks don’t have to worry too much about their closer, J.J. Putz too much. While the MRI shows that he won’t need surgery, a sprained ligament and irritated nerve can’t be too pleasant of an experience.
Putz dominated in the 2011 season, but fell short of repeating his performance in 2012. He’s also shown some weaknesses in 2013, only earning 5 Saves in 9 Opportunities. In 2011, he had 45 Saves in 49 Opportunities and 2012, 32 Saves in 37 Opportunities. So already this year he’s blown as many opportunities as he did in 2011, and one less than he did in all of 2012. While the season is still young, the record isn’t exactly what the Diamondbacks were hoping for.
Heath Bell has been appointed by the Diamondbacks organization as the interim closer. Admittedly, Bell had a horrible 2012 season with the Miami Marlins, with only 19 Saves in 27 Opportunities, a far cry from his successful seasons in 2010 and 2011 with the San Diego Padres, where he also played for Kevin Towers (2010: 47 SV, 50 SVO; 2011: 43 SV, 48 SVO). So far in 2013, he’s earned 3 Saves in 4 Opportunities.
Bell isn’t the only option the D’backs have in their bullpen, but he is the most experienced in the role. They could also use David Hernandez, their 8th inning man. But according to the D’backs, allowing Putz to close is the least disruptive move they can make in the bullpen.
I think the choice is the right one for the D’backs at this stage in the season. Bell may not have completely proven that he has left his 2012 season behind, but we know how effective he can be when his command is right. Players can also be a fickle bunch, with their superstitions and expectations of when they will be used. The bullpen can rest easily knowing that they won’t need to carry the burden of closing anytime soon.
Bell’s shoulders are wide enough to handle it without breaking a sweat.