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Is it time to move Johnson from the closer role?


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#41 Ricker Says

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 10:59 AM

@danconnollysun: Showalter says Jim Johnson is still the team's best option to close out games.

@masnRoch: Buck doesn't sound like he's ready to change closers. Noted not everyone physically able pitch consecutive days. #Orioles

 

Buck providing the narrative to frame an excuse to use someone else in the 9th while avoiding fan speculation that JJ has lost his job. JMO.


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#42 mdak06

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 07:59 AM

Glancing over some of the basic stats right now, Hunter and O'Day seem to be the "closer candidates" if Showalter ever decides he's going to make a change.
 
Hunter: 2.09 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 7.23 K/9 IP, 7 HR, 4.75 SO/BB ratio (38 SO, 8 BB), 47.1 IP
O'Day: 2.13 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 9.24 K/9 IP, 4 HR, 3.55 SO/BB ratio (39 SO, 11 BB), 38.0 IP
 
For comparison:
 
Johnson: 4.02 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.14 K/9 IP, 3 HR, 2.29 SO/BB ratio (32 SO, 14 BB), 40.1 IP
 
The WHIP seems to be the most significant difference, although Hunter's extra HR's given up may be a concern.
 
(None of this changes my earlier opinion that the bullpen shouldn't have so many defined roles to begin with.)
 
Nice article by Jeff BTW. It's a bit surprising that he's throwing a higher % of first pitch strikes, given he seems to have  more issues with walks than in the past. Food for thought:
 
Johnson and walks vs. IP:
 
2010:  5 BB in 26 games / 26.1 IP   (~ 5.1 IP per walk)
2011:  21 BB in 69 games / 91.0 IP  (4.1 IP per walk)
2012: 15 BB in 71 games / 68.2 IP (~ 4.2 IP per walk)
2013: 14 BB in 43 games / 40.1 IP (~2.2 IP per walk)
 

I certainly hope JJ fixes his problems and gets back to being a feared closer.


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#43 Mackus

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 08:46 AM

I still don't think he needs to be removed from being the primary closer, but I wouldn't hesitate to yank him if he gets into a game and struggles like he has so obviously in every single one of his blown saves (and many of his successful ones on top of that recently).  Even if we've already used both Hunter and O'Day, I still go to someone else if Johnson comes in and creates a lead-threatening mess. 

 

He hasn't lost the job outright, but he's lost the trust to get out of his own self-created jams.  I also would go to Matusz or Patton at least to start the inning if two or more left-handed batters are coming up, or to skip Johnson altogether if he's already thrown two consecutive days.



#44 Tucker Blair

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 09:53 AM

Relaying what a scout told me this weekend 

 

"Jim Johnson is trying to be a strikeout pitcher. He is trying to force the two seam. He doesn't look to have that closer edge anymore"

 

I agree with this to an extent. I definitely think JJ is attempting to be too precise with his 2S. It doesn't need to be a world beater, and I think Jeff did a solid job of displaying how he has used it in the past to get ground balls and how he was in the zone with it. It's better off being out of the zone low more with that pitch than trying to get fancy and nab people on the outside corners with it.

 

I could go so much longer on this topic...but I'm kinda exhausted on it.



#45 Oriole85

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 10:35 AM

No. No no no.

 

Simply put, because he will either succeed, in which case he will never go back to starting, or fail, which wouldn't be a good thing for anyone.

No closer has ever started again? David Price and John Smoltz disagree with you, that's just off-the-top-of-my-head, I'm sure there are others.


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#46 Mackus

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 10:41 AM

He's relying on the 2S because he's got no curve or change right now.  He can't throw either for a strike and both are easy enough to pick up on that hitters don't swing at strike-to-ball varieties. 

 

I don't think he's throwing the sinker so much because he's trying for more strikeouts.  He's throwing it because it's the only pitch he has right now.  And, obviously, it's not nearly good enough to be the only pitch in a one-pitch pitcher's arsenal.  He has to find the other two pitches again and be able to command the fastball better.



#47 Oriole85

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 10:45 AM

It has been past time. I said it after the second blown save against San Diego and everyone laughed at me and said I didn't know what I was talking about when I said he should have taken JJ out in that game and we were in trouble with Buck and worrying about Johnson's ego. Here we are, two months later, and he still refuses to take him out of games until it's too late.

How many managers take out their closer in the middle of an inning before the disaster strikes? Name me the ones?


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#48 Oriole85

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 10:52 AM

I wouldn't mind getting rid of the closer role, but I don't think it's too realistic. Until some manager does it with success and every manager copies it that is. I don't think Buck is that visionary manager.


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#49 Mackus

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 10:54 AM

How many managers take out their closer in the middle of an inning before the disaster strikes? Name me the ones?

 

Define disaster.

 

Also, let me know how many managers who have closers who have blown 6 saves in less than two months.

 

If Buck isn't willing to pull Johnson when he lets the first two or three guys reach base, then he has to pull Johnson from the role entirely.  One of those two things has to happen.  No other option at this point.


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#50 bnickle

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 07:34 PM

A couple of things.

 

- Hunter is the only legit option to close. Dont understand the Oday stuff. Lefties are hitting like .350+ off of him. I won't call him a Roogy(??) but I dont like seeing him face a lot of lefties.

 

 

-Johnson has been trying to be too fine with the 2 seemer. Thats what that bad stretch earlier in the year did to him. The Padres came in and jump on his 2 seemer in that game early in counts.Hit the ball hard. From that point on, i think he has come in from the outset and has generally tried to be too fine with the 2 seemer. When runners get on base, especially lead off hitters he tries to get that much more fine with the 2 seemer.

 

Of course, having no control of an offspeed pitch has only made it worse because now opponents can completely eliminate anything but the 2 seemer. So now, your not just sitting on 1 pitch but your getting really picky. Your looking for 1 pitch in a really specific location.



#51 BSLRobShields

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 07:53 PM

JJ definitely gets in trouble when he gets too FB happy.
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#52 Cisc-O's

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 07:56 PM

JJ definitely gets in trouble when he gets too FB happy.

I was only half watching but Dempsey had a chart up that showed JJ threw 78% fastballs on blown saves and 80% fastballs on converted saves.  I think this means he throws just as many no matter what.


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I am pretty sure Shack is thinking of PBR.


#53 Oriole85

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 08:18 PM

Good time to end JJ's role as closer, he ended on a high note after all...

 

I'm one of his bigger supporters, I'd keep him in the role. If Buck would've replaced him today, I'd understand. But that's not the type of a manager he is. He wants to see how they'll respond and gives them confidence to continue after facing adversity. I like it, even if it frustrates the fanbase. At some point, that could cost us I realize.


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#54 Luke Jackson

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 09:40 PM

I understand what Buck's saying about the need to have a closer who can pitch on back-to-back-to-back days...every manager has a CLOSER, and if you insist upon having a CLOSER, he has to be able to throw a lot in a short period of time. I get that. Hunter, who's theoretically probably the next in line, is a recently converted starter. I don't know if he's thrown three straight days this year. You've also got guys in the 'pen who have big splits (Matusz, O'Day). Do you want Brian Matusz facing a power-hitting RHB in the ninth inning? When JJ is on, he can get both hitters out.

 

However...I think a lot of the frustration on this board is due to the stringent nature of BIG CLOSER. Doesn't matter what the situation is -- if you have a lead in the ninth inning, the closer is coming in. Perfect example came on Friday. Yanks have Adams (RHB), Gardner (LHB), Ichiro (LHB) and Cano (LHB) if anyone gets on. If it's the eighth inning, a right-hander faces Adams and Buck brings Matusz in to face the top of the order. It sucks if it doesn't work out, but you presented your best arms given the situation. But since it's the ninth inning, Buck has to go to HIS GUY. Matusz was fresh. In any non-ninth inning late-game situation, he's in there facing the top of the order. 

 

Rigid closer rules suck. Death to the save rule.


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#55 Mackus

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 09:08 AM

Dont understand the Oday stuff. Lefties are hitting like .350+ off of him. I won't call him a Roogy(??) but I dont like seeing him face a lot of lefties.

 

Lefties are hitting O'Day very hard so far this year, for sure, but I think I'd put a lot more weight in his career and recent seasons than just 65 PAs this season.

 

Last year lefties had a 205 BA and 657 OPS in 94 PAs.  For his career, they've hit him at a 249/715 clip in 429 PAs (and was at 680 OPS coming into the year).

 

I've got little concern moving forward in O'Day getting lefties out.  It's something to watch, for sure, but I've got far more confidence in O'Day getting guys out, lefty or righty, than I do in Johnson right now.



#56 Oriole85

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 09:29 AM

Define disaster.

 

Also, let me know how many managers who have closers who have blown 6 saves in less than two months.

 

If Buck isn't willing to pull Johnson when he lets the first two or three guys reach base, then he has to pull Johnson from the role entirely.  One of those two things has to happen.  No other option at this point.

I'd say this since I've seen suggestions to remove him in mid-inning before "disaster" strikes: if Johnson comes out with a one-run lead and he walks the first guy on four pitches. He just doesn't have it. It's obvious to everyone. Buck is just hoping some how, some way he'll come through. How many managers would then get someone warming up? To prevent disaster you have to bring in the pitcher before the blown save happens. I don't many if any managers would remove their closer in that situation, much less Jim Johnson with his season last year.

 

The other part is a separate question -- And how many would allow someone with six blown saves in a two month span, I think Buck would that's the type of a manager he is or atleast with the O's (I don't think he was such a player's manager while he was with other teams). He kept trotting out Kevin Gregg when many thought it was a terrible idea I'm sure with Johnson's season last season, many would be inclined to give him a much longer leash than the typical closer. I don't know if Joe Maddon would remove Rodney if he had such a stretch, he's more likely though. If it was the typical closer who didn't have the season that Johnson did, much better chance they'd get removed.


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#57 Mackus

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 09:44 AM

I think Johnson needs to be removed from a game if he's actively imploding, even before blowing the save.  He's lost the benefit of the doubt, and now is just another reliever, albeit the one who is first in line to get each save.

 

That would mean that some of the saves he has gotten recently would be games that he would've been yanked from.  But it also would mean that almost all of his blown saves would be games he would've been yankeed from and maybe we would've had a better chance of not blowing the save or at least limiting them to a tied-up game instead of an outright loss.
 

Here's a log for his recent appearances:

 

7/6 - K, K, GO

7/5 - 1B, E1, Sac Bunt, BB, IBB, 1B

7/3 - GO, 1B, 1B, K, GO

6/30 - 2B, K, HBP, K, GO

6/26 - BB, 2B, IBB, GO (run scores), GO (run scores)

6/25 - BB, 1B, GIDP, BB, K

6/24 - K, FO, K

6/18 - FO, BB, 1B, GIDP

 

I mean, can you even distinguish the saves from the non-saves?  He's been awful lately.  When he gets in trouble, it's really hard to trust him to get out of it, and he doesn't deserve to have that trust placed in him right now.  You gotta yank him if the first two or three batters reach without having recorded an out.  Even if you don't have Hunter or O'Day saved up to relieve him, I'd trust every other single pitcher in the bullpen to work out of a jam over Johnson at this point.

 

Hopefully he can build on his dominant outing last night and this issue will fade away, but we're not out of the weeds yet.  Not by a long shot.


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#58 Matt

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 02:03 PM

How many managers take out their closer in the middle of an inning before the disaster strikes? Name me the ones?

Multiple wrongs don't make a right.



#59 Oriole85

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 02:26 PM

Multiple wrongs don't make a right.

Thanks for the cliche answer, that's kind of the point, that's how just about every manager manages with their closer. You live or die with them. Still waiting for that revolutionary manager who just says **** the save rule.


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#60 BSLRobShields

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 02:46 PM

Relaying what a scout told me this weekend 

 

"Jim Johnson is trying to be a strikeout pitcher. He is trying to force the two seam. He doesn't look to have that closer edge anymore"

 

I agree with this to an extent. I definitely think JJ is attempting to be too precise with his 2S. It doesn't need to be a world beater, and I think Jeff did a solid job of displaying how he has used it in the past to get ground balls and how he was in the zone with it. It's better off being out of the zone low more with that pitch than trying to get fancy and nab people on the outside corners with it.

 

I could go so much longer on this topic...but I'm kinda exhausted on it.

This is interesting since his lack of Ks and inability to miss bats has been a complaint many of us(and national guys) have had on him.

 

Now, he is trying to do it(im guessing for financial reasons long term"?) and its not working for him as well.


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