Here's The Monk's question: why isn't JJ Putz getting serious attention as a Cy Young Award frontrunner in the AL? Is it his horrendous last name? Is it because he's a Mariner and who the fark knows what's going on out in rainland? Or is it the usual: anti-closer bias?
The fact of anti-closer bias is indisputable. Bartolo Colon had a good and serviceable year in 2005 but wasn't even the best pitcher on his own team, Mariano Rivera was fantastic (1.38 ERA, 43 S, 50 H and 18 BB in 78.1 IP) and the rest of the AL starters lacked a strong case to win the award. Indeed, it takes overwhelming numbers for a closer to win (Eric Gagne, 55/55 saves, 82.1 IP, 37 H, 18 BB, 137 K in 2003).
But Putz (like poots, not like the yiddish word whose definition New Yorkers should know) should be in the Haren/Sabathia/Beckett/Santana mix. Unlike Haren, his team does not stink; unlike Beckett (3.41) and Sabathia (3.70), his ERA is exceptional; unlike Santana (11-8), he's matching his excellent pitching ability to excellent results (29/29 Saves, 0.78 ERA, 19 H and 7 BB in 46 IP). Putz has made every game with the Mariners an eight-inning affair. You hope to win? Don't expect it if you're down in the 9th. That's no small accomplishment -- just ask the '96-'01 Yankees who lost mere handfuls of games that they led after 7 innings thanks to their solid 'pen.