UPDATE: The Oakland Athletics have officialy removed Johnson from closer duties and will go with a committe of Ryan Cook, Luke Gregerson and Sean Doolittle
Yes Jim Johnson saved 101 games over the past two seasons for the Baltimore Orioles, but if you watched him pitch, most of the time it was never a clean save. Last season Johnson blew 9 saves and he's not off to a great start in 2014 with his new team, the Oakland Athletics.
5 appearances, 3.1 innings pitched, 9 hits, 7 runs, 6 walks, 4 strikeouts. 18.90 ERA, 4.50 WHIP.
The problem with Johnson is that he's not a strike out pitcher as he threw 139 innings the past two seasons but struck out only 97 batters. That becomes an issue once he allows base runners because he can't get out of jams by striking batters out. He pitches to contact and that won't get it done in today's game, there are just too many good hitters. For a guy who is 6'6, it's kind of disappointing he only hits around 94 on his fastball.
It may be time to cut ties with Johnson as it may just not work out in Oakland. Being that the A's have made a living over the years on winning close games thanks to great pitching, if Johnson continues to pitch the way he does, then Bob Melvin might have to hand the closer role over to somebody more deserving. Yes it's early but Johnson has really struggled and once you read about the jams he has gotten himself into this year, you'll understand how not being a strike out pitcher really hurts him.
In the first game of the season, Johnson came on to pitch the 9th for the A's in a scoreless game, and lasted just 1/3 of an inning. The bases were loaded after Johnson faced the first three batters of the inning. He walked Asdrubal Cabrera, David Murphy singled, and Yan Gomes was hit by a pitch. Nyjer Morgan hit a sac fly to give the Indians a 1-0 lead, then Nick Swisher singled in another run. The A's lost 2-0.
His second appearance was not any better. Once again Johnson faced the Indians and this time he came into the game with the A's leading 4-3. It was like deja vu, Johnson loaded the bases again. The inning started with back to back singles by Ryan Raburn and Nick Swisher. Jason Kipnis grounded into a fielders choice to make it 1st and 3rd and one out. However Johnson failed to hold Kipnis on and he stole second, making it 2nd and 3rd with one out. He walked Carlos Santana to load the bases and then Michael Brantley singled in two runs to give the Indians a 5-4 lead. David Murphy added an insurance run with a sac fly before Johnson was taken out.
Johnson came back with two scoreless innings against the Seattle Mariners but he nearly cost the A's another win after blowing a 4-2 lead vs the Twins.
Surprise, surprise, Johnson loaded the bases in this game as well. Jason Kubel singled to lead off the 9th, Kurt Suzuki walked, then after Chris Herrmann popped out on a failed bunt attempt, Johnson walked Aaron Hicks to load the bases. Eduardo Escobar singled in a run before manager Bob Melvin pulled Johnson and went to Dan Otero. Otero allowed a sac fly which tied the game, but eventually got out of the inning. Catcher Derek Norris saved the day with a 3-run home run in the 11th inning.