Luke Webber Putkonen
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 6", Weight 210 lb.
- School University of North Carolina
- High School George Walton Comprehensive High School
- Debut April 29, 2012
Pitcher Luke Putkonen made it to the majors in 2012.
He redshirted his first year of college due to Tommy John surgery. He then went 6-0 with a 3.08 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) as a redshirt freshman in 2006. In the Cape Cod League, he was 1-5 with a 3.29 ERA for the Wareham Gatemen. He tied for the league lead in losses. As a sophomore, he had a 8-2, 4.57 record. UNC went to both the 2006 College World Series and 2007 College World Series. Putkonen got the start in the 2007 finale but was knocked out in the second inning by Oregon State University.
Putkonen was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the third round of the 2007 amateur draft. The scout was Grant Brittain. He was the third pitcher taken by Detroit, following Rick Porcello and Brandon Hamilton. Luke debuted as a pro with the GCL Tigers, going 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in three starts. In 2008, he missed time with a shoulder injury, appearing in six games for the Oneonta Tigers and going 2-1 with a 3.65 ERA. In 2009, he was 7-8 with a 3.13 ERA for the West Michigan Whitecaps. He was among the Midwest League leaders in starts (tied for 1st with Shawn Haviland and Sam Runion) and ERA (behind Kenn Kasparek and Kenny Smalley).
In 2010, Putkonen went 9-7 with a 3.18 ERA for the Lakeland Flying Tigers. He was 7th in the Florida State League in ERA (between Austin Hyatt and Brad Hand) and tied for the most double plays (3) by a FSL hurler. He split 2011 between Lakeland (2-6, 5.54) and the Erie SeaWolves (1-7, 7.57) in a rocky year in which opponents hit .305 against him. He tied Trevor Feeney for the most losses in the Detroit minor league system.
Luke began 2012 with the Toledo Mud Hens in a new relief role and was doing well after six games (1-0, 1.38). He was then called up to The Show to replace Thad Weber. He was the 6th 2007 UNC player to make it to the majors, joining Andrew Carignan, Tim Federowicz, Dustin Ackley, Alex White and Kyle Seager. In his big league debut, Putkonen relieved Max Scherzer in the bottom of the 5th with the bases loaded, two outs and a 3-1 deficit against the Yankees. He retired Curtis Granderson to escape that jam. After Detroit scored in the top of the 6th, Putkonen allowed the Yanks to load the bases in the bottom of the 6th but held them without a run. In the 7th, he ran into trouble again. He allowed a Chris Stewart single then walked Derek Jeter. Granderson flew both runners over and Alex Rodriguez ground in Stewart. Collin Balester relieved and allowed the inherited runner (Jeter) to score, giving Putkonen 2 runs in 1 2/3 IP for his debut. He ended up pitching 12 times in the majors that year, all in relief, with a record of 0-2, a 3.94 ERA and one save. He was not on the postseason roster as the Tigers reached the 2012 World Series.
He began 2013 back in the minor leagues with Toledo and was 1-0, 2.16 in 8 games when he was called up on May 2nd. He earned his first major league victory that same day, pitching 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief against the Houston Astros after coming in for Darin Downs with two outs in the 12th. His teammates scored four runs for him in the top of the 14th to give him a 7-3 win.