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Jim Johnson is making a run at all-time blown saves record

Aug 15, 2013, 11:19 AM EDT

Jim Johnson Matt Wieters Getty Images

Jim Johnson has blown saves in each of his last three appearances, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter has been adamant in support of the right-hander as his closer.

Not so long ago he had a streak of 35 straight saves converted, which is no doubt why Showalter is willing to stick with him through so many struggles now, and the long leash gives Johnson a chance to make a run at the all-time blown saves record.

Johnson has blown nine saves in 48 chances this season, putting him within striking distance of the record, which Ray Frager of CSNBaltimore.com notes is 14 shared by Rollie Fingers in 1976, Bruce Sutter in 1978, Bob Stanley in 1983, and Ron Davis in 1984.

It’s also worth noting that Johnson leads the league with 39 saves, so he’s simply had a ton of save opportunities, and with a 3.52 ERA, 41/17 K/BB ratio, and four homers allowed in 54 innings his overall numbers remain very respectable despite the nine leads coughed up and seven losses taken.

  1. Francisco (FC) - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    Not so long ago he had a streak of 35 straight saves converted, which is no doubt why Showalter is willing to stick with him through so many struggles now,

    Shades of Brad Lidge there…

    • Utley's Hair - Aug 15, 2013 at 4:19 PM

      So Jim Johnson is condensing two years into one?

    • donnaturner6566 - Aug 15, 2013 at 6:37 PM

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  2. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    He’s been a lot worse to watch than the numbers suggest. Walking a ton of guys, which isn’t a problem when his sinker is effective, however, no sink on his sinker, first pitch balls, guys are crushing balls into the gap, he’s all over the strike zone, (He really needs to keep the ball down to stay effective), and his velocity and lack of break isn’t fooling anyone. It’s time for Buck to give Tommy Hunter a shot at the closer role, at least for a few weeks till J. J. can shake this off and get back towards normal. He’s been incredibly frustrating to watch, and very easily, at least another 10 of those saves could have gone the other way.

    • mathieug79 - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      He has a case of the “Johnson”, we, the bluejays have a similar underachiever in Josh Johnson

      • hammyofdoom - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:57 AM

        Do you remember Jason Johnson? The fella who was a baseball pitcher with diabetes? Even had an insulin pack on his hip (I remember an umpire once went out and asked him to take it off…) What the hell is it with pitchers with the last name Johnson?

      • mspauto - Aug 16, 2013 at 3:46 PM

        Don’t say to much about the Johnsons – remember good ole Walter

  3. jcmeyer10 - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    I didn’t think their insane record in one run ball games would come crashing down this hard.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      Problem is, the starting pitching can’t go deep enough in games often enough, and the wear and tear is really starting to show in the pen. Can’t use 8 relief pitchers every damn night without consequences. Of course, none of that excuses JJ’s nightmare.

    • sophiethegreatdane - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:04 PM

      @jcmeyer

      Reversion to beyond-the-mean? :)

      Strangely enough, they had the exact same record at this time last year — 65-55. So everyone who pointed to the 1 run games last season to support the notion that the O’s would be in last place this season were a little short sighted.

      This is a good young team, and the starting pitching has been coming around, Feldman being the notable exception. The problem with the 2013 Orioles is they can’t seem to string together a long streak of wins. I think their longest streak this season is like 4 or 5 in a row. Most good teams go on a big tear at some point — look at the Rays and Jays here in the AL East for example. Not that it did the Jays much good.

      For some reason, they can’t seem to beat the teams they should. With so many games against the Rays and Red Sox, this team holds the key to it’s own destiny. They weren’t able to make up ground playing weaker teams, so now it’s time to beat the guys ahead of them, head-to-head if they want to play in the fall.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:52 PM

        The final month is the one saving grace for this team. 7 vs Tampa, 9 vs Boston, 7 vs New York, 6 vs Toronto, a 3 game set against Oakland, and a series against Cleveland and Chicago. If they put together a run, they can take the division, let alone the wild card. But the way they’ve been giving away games the past three weeks, it won’t be easy. Right NOW is the time to get really hot.

  4. stevenewatson - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    That’s actually a really bad strikeout rate for a relief ace!

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:43 AM

      He’s never been a strike out guy. He’s a sinker-baller, and one of the biggest reason’s he was as effective as he was, was due in large part to one of the best defenses ever put together.

  5. stoutfiles - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    An ERA of 3.52 is average. A WHIP of 1.34 is pretty bad. I would call these numbers respectable for a 5th starter, but definitely not a closer on a playoff team.

  6. braven4evr - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    When he enters the game, I just turn the tv off. Can’t watch anymore… to nerve wrecking!

  7. biasedhomer - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    Should switch to KRod.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 15, 2013 at 2:47 PM

      I don’t trust him either. He’s given up plenty of runs as it is. I’d go with either Darren O’Day or Tommy Hunter.

  8. sophiethegreatdane - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    I noted JJ’s problems earlier in the season, and said he could no longer be solely trusted to handle the ninth inning.

    HBT lit me up.

    And yet here we stand, JJ leading the league in blown saves, and Buck just keeps sticking him in there. He’s had two more meltdown periods since that first one, and hitters are hitting grapefruits up there, and he can’t find the strike zone. When he does close a game, it’s almost always with runner(s) on base, or having given up a run.

    He’s only closing 50% of his one-run saves.

  9. psuorioles - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    I love Buck and appreciate what he has done for the O’s, but with him continuing to stick with Johnson in 9th, I’m starting to see why he wears out his welcome. They are in the middle of a playoff push and right now sit on the outside, mostly due to Johnson’s struggles. They traded for K-Rod for a reason, freaking use the guy and give Johnson a mental rest….

  10. mfrizzle - Aug 15, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    Time to give K-rod or Hunter a shot. If they can’t handle it, maybe Jesse Orosco or Armando Benitez are available.

  11. chunkala - Aug 15, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    And everyone said he was the greatest closer ever after last year. His postseason was garbage. Why does everyone claim players are great after 1 good season? Let him scretch 5-7 2012 years together and we’ll talk. Can’t say I’m surprised this happens to closers all the time – Harvey, Mark Davis, Montgomery, Axford, K-Rod, countless others.

  12. buffalo65 - Aug 15, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    K-rod, K-rod….just picked him up on my fantasy team. I couldn’t care less about the O’s.

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