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TT: Showalter should be leery on how he uses Johnson


Tony-OH

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It has been evident for some time, that despite rhetoric to the contrary, Buck is firmly entrenched in the current usage of specialized relief pitching. Barring extreme circumstances Buck will go to Johnson when it is a save situation. The O's have 29 saves as a team, 27 by Johnson. Of the other two saves one is of the three inning variety.

Johnson will need to have a meltdown of Greggian proportions for Buck to remove him from the role, and if that happens then in short order Johnson's replacement, be it Hunter or O'Day, will exhibit a similar usage pattern.

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There's a lot that goes into these decisions. I think Buck's decision to use JJ was defensible, because even though he was pitching for three days in a row, he hadn't pitched for five days before that. On the other hand, he had struggled a bit the two previous nights, throwing 23 pitches in each outing, which is much higher than normal for him. If you look at the other two times he threw three days in a row:

April 22-24: 13 and 14 pitches the two previous days.

June 9-11: 9 and 9 pitches the two previous days.

For me, this was a borderline call. I can see the argument for going with Hunter (not O'Day, who is scuffling a bit right now) there. But I'm not going to fault Buck too much for going with a guy who had reeled off 12 saves in a row and allowed 1 run in 14 appearances.

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There's a lot that goes into these decisions. I think Buck's decision to use JJ was defensible, because even though he was pitching for three days in a row, he hadn't pitched for five days before that. On the other hand, he had struggled a bit the two previous nights, throwing 23 pitches in each outing, which is much higher than normal for him. If you look at the other two times he threw three days in a row:

April 22-24: 13 and 14 pitches the two previous days.

June 9-11: 9 and 9 pitches the two previous days.

For me, this was a borderline call. I can see the argument for going with Hunter (not O'Day, who is scuffling a bit right now) there. But I'm not going to fault Buck too much for going with a guy who had reeled off 12 saves in a row and allowed 1 run in 14 appearances.

How much rest can you "save up"? Is not working for five days any more beneficial then not working for three days?

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I remember Gregg Olson when he was the closer, and they didnt keep blown save records then, but the year he saved 37, he also lost 5 games. The year before that, he saved 31 and lost 6.

It happens.

They are not yet at the halfway mark in the season. Is it going to be OK if he ends up blowing 12 saves for the year?

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Seriously?

If I was Buck, you keep running him out, he is leading both leagues in saves and opportunities for saves.

All closers will blow some, it's the nature of the game.

How many games have the Orioles won against the opposing closer over the years?

Seriously.

Many managers refused to pitch a reliever on 3 consecutive days. And for a guy like Jim Johnson, who is only effective when his sinker is sinking and he is low in the strike zone, control and movement is paramount. Fatigue affects control and movement, it doesn't affect velocity normally.

I was watching Johnson throwing his warm up pitches on the mound last night and I told my girlfriend, "He is going to blow it." Why did I say that? Almost all of his pitches, including his last one was high and out of the zone. What happens against his first batter? A walk on 4 balls high and out of the zone. Then he offers up a belt high meatball to Giambi and it was game over, even though he eventually found his stuff--it was too late.

Johnson might be a guy you have to coddle in order to get the best out him, because even at his best he is not going to be a guy who gets himself into trouble and can strike out the side to make up for it. If he's more than a jot off, Jim Johnson isn't an effective closer.

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There's a lot that goes into these decisions. I think Buck's decision to use JJ was defensible, because even though he was pitching for three days in a row, he hadn't pitched for five days before that. On the other hand, he had struggled a bit the two previous nights, throwing 23 pitches in each outing, which is much higher than normal for him. If you look at the other two times he threw three days in a row:

April 22-24: 13 and 14 pitches the two previous days.

June 9-11: 9 and 9 pitches the two previous days.

For me, this was a borderline call. I can see the argument for going with Hunter (not O'Day, who is scuffling a bit right now) there. But I'm not going to fault Buck too much for going with a guy who had reeled off 12 saves in a row and allowed 1 run in 14 appearances.

I remember Gregg Olson when he was the closer, and they didnt keep blown save records then, but the year he saved 37, he also lost 5 games. The year before that, he saved 31 and lost 6.

It happens.

I don't think this is an issue of whether or not anyone thinks JJ is good or reliable. But let's say he closed down the game last night with the save and we won. Maybe he threw about 20 pitches to end the game. And now tonight, we are in another save situation. Surely Buck would not extend him to four days in a row. So you have to draw the line somewhere, and when the evidence shows that he's significantly less effective when working a third day in a row, you have to go to someone else. It's not like our bullpen is JJ and a bunch of duds right now. Maybe you let Matusz go a 2nd inning. If you really want to keep him fresh, you can put in Hunter. There are options (heck, Patton and Hunter were warming in the 9th as the meltdown got going).

It's frustrating because it's akin to last year's "leaving the starter in for one inning too long" fiasco. I understand what Buck is trying to accomplish in those situations, but it just seemed to happen without fail that trying to get the extra inning when the starter completed the previous inning on fumes was going to result in disaster. So what I'm saying is that it seems preventable, and while Buck has forgotten more about baseball than I'll ever know, it's frustrating to see the same mistakes repeated throughout the course of the season.

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They are not yet at the halfway mark in the season. Is it going to be OK if he ends up blowing 12 saves for the year?

There are multiple closers with 3 blown at this stage, and less opportunities.

Lets not drink the kool-aid.

This team is still 7 games over .500,

Go back tonight, with Gonzalez and get back in the win column.

If they can get back to taking two out of three, they will be just fine.

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There are multiple closers with 3 blown at this stage, and less opportunities.

Lets not drink the kool-aid.

This team is still 7 games over .500,

Go back tonight, with Gonzalez and get back in the win column.

If they can get back to taking two out of three, they will be just fine.

Johnson has more then three blown saves.

Seven games over .500 is good enough for third place and home for the playoffs.

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Johnson has more then three blown saves.

Seven games over .500 is good enough for third place and home for the playoffs.

Actually before the Tribe, they were 7 games above .500 and in 2nd place and with the better record and the number 1 wild card slot.

There is a lot of baseball to play.

Go Birds!!!!

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