Putnam f/x

For the second time this offseason, Kevin Slowey has been traded. This time, he’s going from the Rockies to the Indians. The return for Colorado is 24-year-old reliever Zach Putnam, who had a cup of coffee with the Indians in September. You know what that means? It means that we have 114 pitches worth of PITCHf/x for Putnam’s debut. Before we get into that, though, let’s get a few things out of the way:

{exp:list_maker}Drafted by the Indians in the fifth round of the 2008 draft out of the University of Michigan
Has started 15 of his 122 minor league games, but 2011 was his first year exclusively in the bullpen
About 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.5 walks per nine innings over his minor league career
{/exp:list_maker}
For his stint with the Indians (7.1 innings, 10 hits, five runs, no walks, two hit batsmen, nine strikeouts), I could identify three clear pitches from Putnam. About half the time against righties and two-thirds of the time against lefties, Putnam relied on a 91 mph fastball. They appear to be predominately four-seamers, though there are likely some two-seamers or maybe even cutters in there as well. A picture of his four-seam grip can be seen here.

His out-pitch against both lefties (33 percent) and righties (30 percent) was a splitter that looks early on to be a very good offering. On average, it was about six mph off of his fastball with nine extra inches of downward action; it got a swing-and-miss on 48 percent of swings against it. You can see his splitter grip here.

Putnam also threw a handful of low-80s sliders that didn’t have a whole lot of depth and were left up (only three of Putnam’s 17 sliders were below the bottom of the strike zone*, while half of his 36 splitters were). This looks like his slider grip.
*In this context, I am using a fixed vertical strike zone of 1.75 feet above ground to 3.4 feet above ground.

Pitch results are in the table below.

          #       LHB     RHB     Ball    Called  Whiff   Foul    In Play
Fastball  61      29      32      21      10      3       14      13  
Splitter  36      15      21      8       3       12      7       6
Slider    17      1       16      7       5       1       0       4

Putnam will be on the Rockies’ 40-man roster, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a serious look for a bullpen spot out of spring training. His splitter is particularly intriguing.

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