That makes 4… Today is May 26 and already the Orioles closer has blown more saves than he did in all of last year. The suck of today’s disaster is twofold, because not only did Jim Johnson fail to get 3 outs with a 3 run lead, but he did so a mere 24 hours after a near-perfect performance in yesterday’s game, which had a lot of us hoping that his troubles had ended and he was back to his old self again.
At this point, I think we have to at least entertain the possibility of having somebody else (probably O’Day) handle the closing job, at least for now. Of course, baseball is a cyclical phenomenon, and all pitchers go into slumps from time to time. But after today, I for one am now convinced that something isn’t right with Jim Johnson. He’s missing the strike zone by a foot. He’s not inducing ground balls. Those two things lead to walks and flyballs, and the final result will usually be what we saw today.
A team can’t contend without a closer. And while the season is still young, consider that Johnson is now on pace to blow 12 saves by year’s end. If the Orioles lose 10 or 11 of those games, it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll be behind the Yankees and/or Red Sox come September. Losses like today’s WILL come back to haunt us.
Buck, I trust you to do the right thing here. And if relieving JJ of his closing duties is what you have to do to win games, that needs to happen.