Let's just say that Putz should thank me for titling this post after his first name... and only his first name.
Metsblog.com is reporting that according to Kevin Burkhardt, JJ Putz says he’s having trouble getting extra life on his fastball in the eighth-inning role. Putz, who is known for his split finger fastball, has not really used his split finger this year and it really is a shame. It was the primary factor in why he had 40 saves with the Mariners in 2007.
For all those who are unfamiliar with the split finger and what exactly it does, let me explain. The "splitter" is thrown with the same arm motion as a normal fastball, but the adjusted grip causes it to behave quite differently. The ball appears to tumble in a knuckleball-like fashion; but it is much faster than a knuckleball. It is important not to touch any of the seams on the ball but rather you place your index and middle finger on the smooth part of the ball. Since these two fingers are off to the side of the ball, there is some slippage at release. This is desirable because it is this slippage that robs the ball of spin and causes it to run out of energy and dart randomly as it approaches the batter. A splitter will usually drop as it approaches the plate, and break to either the right or left.
The problem arises though when the opposing team is knocking it around like a whiffle ball. In other words, the splitter is not splitting. Now I'm not much of a pitching coach, nor am I doctor but they say that the splitter is very difficult to control and stressful on the arm. Hence, the reason many pitchers do not use it or bluntly, can't use it. The reason it is so stressful is that there is tension created in the upper arm as a result of the drastic split of the fingers. This has a tendency to lock the wrist up and prevents there from being any shock absorption at release.
Could it be that due to Putz's many appearances this year it has created stress on his arm causing him to rely on other pitches which frankly, don't make Putz - Putz?
Well, we all know one thing; if Putz keeps this up - he'll really earn his name in New York.