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D-backs GM: Workload, not stuff is Putz’s problem right now

LISTEN: Kevin Towers , D-backs GM

If Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers is concerned about his bullpen, he has an odd way of showing it.

In fact, he told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Wednesday that discussions have been had with manager Kirk Gibson about possibly shaking things up, but said the biggest issue right now is how much work the bullpen has put in.

“We’re on the 16th day of I think 16 straight days without an off day, and we’ve been in every single game of those 16 days,” he said.

Towers said closer J.J. Putz, who has blown four saves in nine chances this season, has “been up” more than anyone else on the team.

Putz has tossed 12.2 innings this season in 13 games. He has allowed six runs on 12 hits, while walking seven and striking out 17. He has an ERA of 4.26 and a WHIP of 1.50, while opponents are hitting .245 against him.

Putz is struggling, though he’s not the only one. Towers mentioned setup man David Hernandez as another scuffling member of the bullpen, who like Putz is often thrown into high-pressure situations.

Though an issue, Towers said it may not be a problem with stuff so much as fatigue.

“Their stuff is still good, it’s just pitch location,” he said. “I think when you’re mentally fatigued, physically fatigued the first month of the season; very rarely do many teams play this many close games in a month, even in blowouts when you’re losing sometimes you get a chance to rest some of your key guys, and we haven’t had that opportunity.”

So, Towers said Putz will probably get the day off Wednesday heading into an off day Thursday. The hope, he said, is that the rest will help the 36-year-old get back to looking like the dominant reliever he’s been, not the hittable pitcher he is right now.

“It’s one of those just really trying to dig deeper into kind of where are we at,” he said. “Is it he just doesn’t have the stuff anymore or is he throwing too much?”

Towers seems to be banking on the latter option, and while there are options like Hernandez and Heath Bell, along with lefty Matt Reynolds, Putz’s issues have not endangered his role as the team’s closer. At least, not yet.

“It’s tough, it’s hard, but I try to be a realist and know how difficult and how hard it is, especially when you’re out there and you’re not at full strength,” Towers said. “And your velocity is down and you’re tired, your mentally fatigued and physically fatigued, that’s going to happen.”