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Jim Johnson joins the 50-save club for the second consecutive season

Sep 29, 2013, 7:55 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles' Johnson pitches against the Boston Red Sox during a MLB spring training baseball game in Sarasota, Florida

Wrapping up a 7-6 win over the Red Sox, Orioles closer Jim Johnson recorded his 50th save of the season, joining Craig Kimbrel as the only relievers to reach the 50-save echelon this season. For Johnson, it is the second consecutive year in which he has recorded at least 50 saves — he recorded 51 last year in helping his team into the ALDS, where they lost in five games to the Yankees.

Johnson joins Eric Gagne and Mariano Rivera as the only relievers to have a pair of 50-save campaigns. No one has more. Only eight other relievers even have a one. Like Gagne, Johnson got his 50-save seasons consecutively.

Johnson had an up-and-down year. At times, he looked like the dominant closer that breathed new life into an Orioles team last year. At other times, like the two-week stretch in May in which he posted a 21.60 ERA in six appearances, he appeared to be throwing beach balls from 60 feet, six inches. But all’s well that ends well, as he ends the season with a sub-3.00 ERA, having converted 11 consecutive save opportunities.

Unlike last year, however, the rest of the bullpen was noticeably worse — about a half run per nine innings worse, in fact. Thus, the Orioles’ sterling 29-9 record in one-run games last year dropped to 19-31 this year. Thus, the 85-77 third-place Orioles will be watching the post-season from home.

  1. yankeepunk3000 - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    still even with the 50 saves he had at times a brutal season and the Os stopped using him as a closer a couple of times. I don’t know he just didn’t seem dominant

    • randomdigits - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:37 PM

      Buck sat him in favor of Hunter once.

      I agree he wasn’t as dominant. Hard to be an elite relief pitcher with a pedestrian strikeout rate.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:42 AM

      He had two bad weeks. Name me another player in the league that DIDN’T have two bad weeks somewhere in the season. It’s more noticeable when a closer struggles, but people need to get over the idea that Rivera is the standard in closers. Rivera was very special, and now that he’s gone, people have to come to terms with closers not being 100% shut down for 60+ games a season.

  2. salsashark2004 - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    Not the greatest year for JJ even with the 50 saves. That said, after the 15 years of futility that I and other O’s fans suffered through, an 85-77 follow-up to a 93-69 season isn’t too bad.

    • aceshigh11 - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:26 PM

      Love your user name. Kevin Smith rules.

  3. gatorprof - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    50 is an over-rated number. The guy had 50 saves, but was 3-8 with 9 blown saves (led the league). His WHIP of 1.28 was also by far the worst of the top 10 MLB save leaders. His ERA was below 3, but compare that to Kimbrel, Holland, Mariano, etc. This is why his WAR was only 1.5.

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