Roller Coaster Closer

Featured, Sports and Bets — July 9, 2013 at 11:38 am by

It’s been a few days since Orioles’ closer Jim Johnson’s latest debacle. We have all had some time to calm our tempers and Jim has since looked good again, with a 1-2-3 9th in Sundays come from behind win. But one good game doesn’t change the overall situation. JJ has been an up and down roller coaster this season, and for better or worse the ride’s not over yet.

This photo reminds me of myself.

This photo reminds me of myself.

Jim’s 30 saves leads all of Major League baseball.  However, the 6 blown save attempts is also a league leader, and the 3.92 ERA is somewhat of a glaring blemish for a player who is supposed to be a “shut down” closer.  On any given day I’ll think of myself as being the GM of a big league club, à la Brad Pitt in Moneyball, and I’ll think that it has to be one of the coolest jobs in the world.  But it’s sticky situations like this one that makes me glad to be sitting right where I am. Buck and Dan have their hands full here. When Jim’s on, he’s on, but when he’s off…..boy is he off.  It’s not like he’s coming into a 1 run game and leaving one pitch hanging, thereby blowing the game.  No, it’s more so that when JJ can’t find it he isn’t inches off, he’s more like miles and miles off.  While watching the latest incident Friday night, Jim was struggling so badly to locate a strike that I truly thought he was going to overthrow Matt Wieters while issuing an intentional free pass.  But just when you think you have had enough of this asshole’s crap, and broken a few things in your man cave due to frustration, Buck trots him out in a big spot Sunday, and he’s a whole different pitcher. The up and down continues, but the questions are still out there, Which Jim is here for the long haul?  Three-up-three down Jim, or “have you seen my baseball” Jim.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, The stoning of shitty relief pitchers shall commence unless performance increases!

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, The stoning of shitty relief pitchers shall commence unless performance increases!

As hard as that question is to answer,  we don’t have a crystal ball, so the more pertinent question is does Buck truly still have faith in JJ?  Sending him back out in Sunday’s game surely sent a message, but I’ve got to think that he’s one more episode from Skip having to make some sort of a change, as well as the possibility of a public stoning in Canton Square.  The options are endless. With the departure of Strop, and JJ struggles aside, the bull pen is firing on all cylinders.  There’s a list of guys who have pitched well enough to get a shot at closing if Buck finally gets to a next man up position.  Tommy “Big Game” Hunter is looking like a stud, and did have a text-book save recently against the Yanks at Camden. Darren O’Day, or hell even Brian Matusz ,could make an argument for the job, so I don’t think there’s any shortage of quality arms in the pen who could step up and close if need be.
So if push comes to shove we can adequately fill the 9th inning void by moving Jim.  Which of course would lead to another next question,  where exactly do you move Jim to?  The rotation?  Back to middle relief?  To another team?  Prior to the start of the season there was a lot of discussion about sending Jim to the rotation.  He doesn’t have typical closer, blow you away 99 mph type speed, and the thought was maybe his versatility could make him a good starter. We didn’t give it a shot because we didn’t want to screw with our perfect closer, but at this point it might be worth a shot, huh?  Jim was great in middle reliever before becoming a closer, so maybe that’s what he needs to get back to his consistent ways.  Also, despite the 6 blown saves, his performance over the last year still makes you think he’s got  good trade value, and maybe we use him as a trading chip for a big splash as the deadline approaches.  There’s plenty of options on moves and changes we can make, but for now all we can do is hold our breath and cross our fingers when Jimmy comes into the old ball game.

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