Tuesday, June 2, 2009

J. J. Putz Has E.D.

Mets Set-Up Man Has Eighth Inning Dysfunction

Watching any sporting event on cable means sitting through a seemingly endless number of advertisements for sexual enhancers and pills to make older men stop urinating all the time. Or is it medicines so that they can urinate whenever they want to? I'm not sure. Either way, watching a sporting event is a virtual priapism of awkward pharmaceutical pitches. It's uncomfortable in certain company and it seems to last about four hours.

But being bombarded with such commercials did help me diagnose Mets set-up man J.J. Putz with a form of ED. And, I don't mean erectile dysfunction. Because that is apparently easy to cure. Provided you don't mind nosebleeds, loss of vision, restless leg syndrome, ear-wax buildup and sudden and uncontrollable body hair loss. What Putz has is eighth-inning dysfunction. He can't seem to get it up unless it's the ninth inning and a save situation. And, by "it" I mean his velocity.

Last night, Putz entered the game in the eighth inning. The Mets led the Pirates, 5-3, when he came in from the bullpen. By the time the 6-5 redhead trudged towards the dugout, the Mets were trailing, 8-5. Putz allowed an inherited runner to score and then saw another four cross home plate. It was his fourth loss of the season.

Before arriving in Queens during the offseason, Putz was the closer for the Seattle Mariners. In 2007, he saved 40 games for the Mariners and was an All-Star. In his three seasons as the first-choice closer in the Emerald City (which included an injury-marred 2008), Putz had an ERA of 2.34. In the three seasons before that when he was not the ninth-inning beverage of choice, Putz managed a 4.19 ERA. Pitching in the ninth inning this year, Putz is holding batters to a .063 batting average. Not too shabby. In the eighth inning, though, the former All-Star closer is allowing hitters to rake at a .294 clip. That's not good. Especially since the Mets brought him to New York to pitch in the eighth inning ahead of Francisco Rodriguez.

I would say it's pretty clear that this guy has ED. It happens to lots of relievers, I'm sure. According to Metsblog, Putz spent time before last night's debacle working on his delivery and trying to fine tune his mechanics. Because he's basically admitted the other day on WFAN that he's having a hard time performing in the eighth:

“I’m still trying to get used to pitching in the eighth inning, and find some adrenaline, because it’s not like pitching in the ninth, I’ll tell you that… It’s a weird mentality… You just don’t have that heart-pounding sensation, I think that’s where those two-or-three miles-per-hour are.”

Someone should tell him that they've got medicine for this.