Rob Long: Something’s Gotta Give
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Save: To keep safe, intact, or unhurt; safeguard; preserve.
In baseball a save is, as set forth in Rule 10.19 of the Official Rules of Major League Baseball:
1. If a pitcher enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning
2. If a pitcher enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, at bat or on deck
3. If a pitcher pitches for at least three innings
Statically, Jim Johnson is the very best in the business over the past two seasons. However, if you’ve been watching the Baltimore Orioles this season, you don’t want to hear about Johnson’s 39 saves. The O’s are two games back in the American League Wild Card and he’s blown eight saves this season. That number seems to stand out a lot more than the 39 saves that he has.
This is the question for Buck Showalter. If your season is on the line, will you go to Jim Johnson to close out the game AND have confidence that he will get the job? I believe Buck will go to Johnson but there’s no way he can convince me that he has the confidence in Johnson that a manager should have in his closer.
In addition to that, what is the psychological effect for Jim Johnson of all of the blown saves? It’s impossible to believe he’s not over-thinking certain situations. It’s impossible to think he comes into a close ballgame BELIEVING he’ll end the game before giving up a lead. In fact, I don’t believe anyone has confidence in Jim Johnson right now.
I know, I know. When you actually analyze what you see, people instantly think, “You don’t like Jim Johnson”. It has nothing to do with liking or disliking Jim Johnson. I do like Jim Johnson but I love winning and the goal is to win and right now he’s standing in the way of that too often for a closer of a play-off contending team.
That’s the issue with Jim Johnson.
There are times when good Major League Players, like Jim Johnson, have to be moved from their normal roles in order to “figure things out” and maybe now is the time to do so. Blown saves add up. Jim Johnson has eight, so far.
One way or the other, it has to stop.