The move is surprising because it leaves veteran Scott Downs as the only southpaw currently in the team’s bullpen. Downs, who’s been about as reliable as they come over the past decade, hasn’t been able to find the strike zone after signing a free agent contract to come to Chicago over the weekend.
You could say that Veal has been a bit better, but he’s had his fair share of struggles as well. In his six innings so far this year he’s walked seven batters. He doesn’t seem to be anything more than a guy that can come in to face one lefty and that’s it.
But the move is understandable because, well nobody in the ‘pen can throw a strike so a minor move like this can’t effect the unit too much as a whole. And with a tired group after Wednesday night’s 14-inning affair with the Red Sox, including three innings from set-up man Daniel Webb, they could really use a fresh arm.
Putnam is a bit of a journeyman. He’s had one brief stop in the majors in each of the past three seasons for the Indians, Rockies and Cubs, but has not impressed. He’s put up solid minor league career numbers dating back to when he was drafted by the Tigers in 2005 – a 3.79 ERA and a 1.324 WHIP.
So far this year for the Knights he’s pitched in four games and in his six innings, he’s struck out 11 while only walking one and surrendering four hits.
In addition to his hot start to the season, he impressed throughout Spring Training and can be relied on to go more than one inning if needed, which again could be what’s most important in the immediate future given how tired this unit may be.
The team did have other veteran options such as Javy Guerra, Mitchell Boggs and Frank Francisco with Nate Jones on the DL, but those guys are projects that the organization would really like to benefit from down the line whereas Putnam is just a stopgap guy.
But with how bad the White Sox’ bullpen has been, if Putnam does impress big-time moving forward, he’ll definitely have a shot at sticking for a little while.
I’d assume Veal will go unclaimed on waivers and will report back to AAA Charlotte, but we’ll see.