When the Arizona Diamondbacks plucked J.J. Putz off of the MLB free agency market in 2010, they had no idea he would materialize into one of the best closers that the club has ever had. With 32 saves last season, Putz will improve upon that number in 2013 as the Diamondbacks are going to finish atop the NL West for the second time in three seasons.
Putz was an unimpressive 1-5 last season, but he finished with a respectful ERA of 2.82 over 54 innings. It is obvious Putz wasn’t quite as dominant as he was in 2011, where he enjoyed a career-high 45 saves and a 2.17 ERA–these are the numbers the Diamondbacks will need from Putz this coming season.
Kirk Gibson will enter his third season at the helm for the Diamondbacks and is hoping to capture the same magic that he had in 2011, where he won Manager of the Year in his rookie season. At age 55, we will see if the manager can connect to a group that was unable to win more than 83 games in 2012–Justin Upton will be a huge factor as the apparently disgruntled outfielder is still a game-changer.
The closing situation will be a big factor on whether or not the Diamondbacks will be able to derail the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. If Putz isn’t able to shut the door late in games, pesky teams like the Giants will be able to get late-inning wins that propelled to a championship.
Putz is a free agent following the 2014 season, so time will tell if he will stick with the Diamondbacks, but in my mind, Putz is one of the team’s most pivotal players moving forward.