Here’s Why Buck Showalter Needs To Stick With Jim Johnson

Jim JohnsonGuest Post by Cody Colston. You can follow him at @The_OtherCody.

Yes, the inevitable has happened. People have figured out that Jim Johnson is, in fact, human and, as all baseball players do, is going through a slump, giving up 13 hits and 12 earned runs in his last five innings pitched and making this clip extremely relevant. Now, I’m not going to sit here and try and to be a hitting coach (pitching coach in this case) like Zach does, but I will sit here and tell why you shouldn’t panic just yet.

Jim Johnson blew a total of 3 saves in the regular season last year. Let’s put this in perspective, before 2009, any time Mariano Rivera recorded at least 40 saves, he blew at least 4. He did something the best closer EVER couldn’t do until he was 39, 11 years older than Johnson when he did it, did it with 50 saves, and he isn’t Rivera. Now, comparing Johnson to Rivera isn’t all that fair, but that’s my point. Johnson isn’t going to be perfect, especially since he’s a contact pitcher, so let’s get over that right now, but not many closers will be perfect either. Johnson is going through a slump; it’s inevitable, it happens to all baseball players, especially pitchers. At one point in Rivera’s career, he blew 3 saves in the span of 6 days. Now what did the Yankees’ manager do to get him out of this slump? Sent him right back out there the next day, precisely what Buck is doing.
Buck isn’t the only one breaking out the saddle to ride his closer through a slump, Fernando Rodney has blown 5 saves already this season after his historic season last year, even Craig Kimbrel and Chris Perez, two of the better closers in the league, both have 3 blown saves this season, while no as close together as Johnson’s are, it still is 3 blown saves pretty early in the season. So no one has the right to question Buck’s decision on keeping Johnson as the closer, not only because it’s the right thing, but because his hand are tied.

Who would replace Johnson? Darren O’Day is who fans are crying out for to take the closer role, but his role as a groundball pitcher and setup man are too volatile to move him, plus he has given up hits in 8 of his last 10 appearances. Tommy Hunter is another hot hand that Buck could go to but, he is a work horse out of the bullpen, as is T.J. McFarland, and does tend to give up the long ball at bit too much (5 homers allowed this season, the most of all the relievers) for a closer. Troy Patton has struggled this season, posting an ERA of 4.79 so far this season, but having an ERA of 8.00 in his last 9 innings pitched. Brian Matusz is the go to lefty specialist and emergency long man, so his role is too valuable to give up and he blew a save against Oakland, which makes you question his mentality. Pedro Strop is — well, I’d rather not touch that one but I think you know what I’m talking about. Closing by committee? Can’t waste too many arms in one day since the starters don’t go that deep and it may lead to “dry humping” pitchers, warming pitchers up without using them, which Buck doesn’t like.

So Johnson cannot be moved out of the closer role, seeing as there isn’t another available option at this point in time but if Johnson can’t get out this slump soon it might provoke Buck to move him but at this point in time he is staying put. I’m confident that he will get out of his slump, he went through something similar in April of 2010, he blew 3 saves and gave up 7 runs in 9.2 innings pitched. Johnson will need to return to form in order for the Orioles to make the playoffs, that is certain. I also don’t think I can make it to the playoffs having fans ask for the goggled one himself, Kevin Gregg, to come back.

Cody Colston is an aspiring sports journalist that looks to offer what other sports writers can't. He's a born and bred Baltimore sports fan that also loves the Washington Capitals and Wizards. Some say he's a sports addict, but he would argue he's way more devoted than that.

10 Comments

  1. Willo

    May 28, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Jairo and Zech down on the farm do not look like viable replacements. That said, I suppose that you stay the course with JJ and hope that he rights the ship or you go down in flames. Switching roles in the bull pen messes up everyone’s role. I do not see any team this early in the proceedings making a deal. What’s Armando doing these days?

  2. Pole

    May 29, 2013 at 9:00 am

    I agree, no knee jerk reactions. Let him try to work things out before making changes. That being said, the O’s don’t want to give away too many more that should be in the “W” column.

  3. spy

    May 29, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Hows that working for ya >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  4. spy

    May 29, 2013 at 10:07 am

    It’s time to promote Matucz or O’Day to the closer position,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  5. Pole

    May 29, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Obviously not as well as last season but I would let him try to work it out in the short term for another week or two before I make a change. Stability helps a team, making changes constantly because someone is under performing for a period of time doesn’t help the team nor the player perform well.

    Spy, do you think Buck is a decent coach? Wanna bet lunch with Chow that Buck gives him another week or two before making any changes? I win you have to eat with the chow master, you win, I will. Whatta think?

    • spy

      May 30, 2013 at 9:31 am

      I’m not a betting guy but I don’t disagree with your thoughts,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,we just have differing opinions about what to do , that’s what fandome is all about,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Actually Buck will live or die with him because he is player-loyal to a fault,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Billick was like that also and it eventually hurt the team and cost him his job,,,,,,,,,just sayin’……………

      • MGW

        May 30, 2013 at 12:08 pm

        spy, I knew a guy like you once.

        Never let the truth get in the way of you making an argument.

        You know, how Angelos is so much smarter than the other 29 owners and “hides” all his profits and gets them to fork over draft picks.

        How the Orioles brass traded for a guy in Chris Davis who had displayed power in both the minors and the bigs, hitting 21 homers, 17, and then 33 last year – but yet the Orioles “got lucky” with him.

        How the Orioles should get some free agent pitchers to bolster their staff and yet for every 1 free agent pitcher that has any success at all, you can name 5 others who were complete busts.

        Or how they should get a “second tier” pitcher, yet he fails to see that it’s at a cost of $26.5 million for two years for a guy like Dempster, who’s barely over .500 in his career with a mid-4′s era.

        Here are the facts – They paid Jones. They paid Markakis. They paid Roberts. They have these guys on their roster they will have to take a hard look at – Davis, Wieters, Machado, Hardy. Those are some significant paydays.

        It’s baseball, not “foopball”. You don’t draft guys, plug em in and they perform a few months later.

        Despite the ignoring of the facts, the team is on the right path. They have to continue to look for pitching depth everywhere including guys like Jurrjens, Garcia, and hope a few pan out.

        Or they could overpay Ryan Dempster and get the same results.

        • spy

          June 3, 2013 at 10:09 am

          we will see if they can win a world series without a number one pitcher and we will see how many nice players end up in pinstripes in a few years,,,,,,,,,,,all in all I think Angelos has succeeded in building his family trust fund the same time he is fooling most of the great fans of Baltimore,,,,,,,if you are willing to have a team that wins when lucky it’s ok with me , I like my teams to be perennial winners , sort of like the Ravens,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

          Having said that , I’m enjoying the O’s this year very much , but it is this that make me sad they do not try to do this on a regular basis and you know it all comes back to Peter the Great………….how soon we forget fourteen years of losing baseball , fourteen years , don’t forget it because history has a way of repeating itself,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  6. Chow

    May 30, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Mistel Pole, Chow like you bet with Chow “tickle bunny” Spy. Spy and Chow getting leady to celeblate as month of June be Spy and Chow month. Spy you bet with mistel Pole and quit be jealous! I shale you with othel guy for fun and game. Chow like get with 9InchMan cause if he no lye then chow be like “whoopee 9inchman! Take out tlash and loll the dice!”. Chow think Pole, Spy, MGW and Chow go Dundalk Calnival and you guy win Chow stuffed animal and Chow play Duck Pond Game. Chow like fishing and good at catch ducks in pond. Chow got on big sliding boald once then balf on little kid who was eating ice cleam cone. Aftel calnival we all go Spy house and play “Twistel” with some Chow old flames.

    • spy

      June 3, 2013 at 10:02 am

      Time to try that hari-kari thing again , or get back on your medication,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,