ESPNews reports the Seattle Mariners have placed closer J.J. Putz (ribcage) on the 15-day disabled list because of a ribcage injury.
Putz felt some discomfort while pitching to Texas Rangers shortstop Michael Young during his outing on Tuesday, April 1, and had an MRI done after the game. The MRI on his right side revealed a mild case of costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage that attaches to the rib on the right side.
Putz pitched in both games so far this season but had mixed results. On opening day, he struck out two batters in his only inning of work and picked up the save. However, he blew the save the next night after allowing the eventual game-winning home run to Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton in the ninth inning. He was able to strike out two batters in the second game.
Coming into this season, Putz was considered one of the best fantasy closers in the game because of his fantastic 2007 campaign. He finished last season with 40 saves, a 6-1 record, a 0.70 WHIP and a tiny 1.38 ERA. He only had two blown saves last season. Putz has also been a superb strikeout man over the past few seasons, fanning 104 batters in 2006 and 82 last season.
From a fantasy perspective, the early indication is that relief pitcher Mark Lowe, the Mariners' eighth-inning setup man, will likely fill the void. Lowe, whose fastball peaks in the mid-90s, has seen action in two games this season but has only pitched two-thirds of an inning with a walk.
The right-hander had a breakout 2006 season in which he posted a 1.93 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings, but his year was cut short because of elbow inflammation. He eventually had two surgeries since then, but a bumpy rehab only allowed him to pitch 2 2/3 innings with a 6.75 ERA last year.
Right-handed pitcher Sean Green is another possibility. He pitched 1 2/3 innings in his opening day win, only allowing one hit and striking out two batters. Green was solid last season in 64 appearances, going 5-2 with a 3.84 ERA with 53 strikeouts. He also blew three saves last year.
The team has yet to officially name a replacement, but there's a possibility that if you have the room, you might want to stash Lowe if he becomes available. The Mariners could also go with the dreaded closer-by-committee setup. Putz owners should move him to a disabled list spot, if applicable, and stash him until he's ready. The Mariners won't want to rush back their elite closer, and a rib injury could certainly linger. Exercise caution with one of the game's best stoppers.
About Tim Piotrowski
Piotrowski has been a Hot Off the Wire analyst since 2007.
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