It has been a rough couple of weeks for Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson.
Prior to Baltimore’s May 14 matchup against the San Diego Padres, Johnson had been perfect for the season in save opportunities, and his ERA was a stingy 0.95. Just two weeks later, he has four blown saves, and his ERA has ballooned to 5.25.
Johnson was cruising until the Padres tagged him for four hits and two earned runs en route to beating the Orioles 3-2. Four days later, he did not recover. Johnson came in to protect a 6-5 Oriole lead against the Tampa Bay Rays, but left after giving up five earned runs and retiring only one batter. Baltimore lost 10-6.
Johnson’s next outing was against the New York Yankees. Also not good. He blew another save—his third in as many chances—as New York won 6-4.
The following night, JJ started to get his act together, picking up a win against New York. He subsequently went on to earn his 15th save against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Unfortunately, he would regress again, blowing the next save against Toronto, giving up four earned runs while only retiring two batters.
In 25 games, Johnson has blown four saves so far this year. Last year, he missed only three save chances in 71 games.
In 2012, Johnson was lights out, setting a Baltimore record and leading the majors with 51 saves. JJ then had some trouble in the playoffs with the Yankees as he took a loss and also blew a save in their five-game series.
The good news is that Johnson seemed to bounce back from that just fine. He started off the 2013 season strong, taking advantage of 14 straight save opportunities. While things might be a little concerning right now, something tells me Johnson will get back on track and be the closer the Orioles know he can be.
by Andy Mindzak