We all pretty much know what happened last night up in the Bronx. After losing two out of three against the lowly Chicago White Sox, the Orioles needed on Friday against the rival New York Yankees.
They were on their way there, leading 2-1 in a tight game in the ninth inning. Then, Jim Johnson came into the contest.
He imploded again in an ugly ninth inning. The Yankees would win 3-2.
Simply put, it is it time to replace Johnson in the closer spot with Tommy Hunter?
Hunter has been by far the best reliever on the team with the most upside. Despite Hunter blowing a game on Thursday, he is 3-2 with a 2.09 ERA and is a pitcher reborn in the bullpen.
On the other hand, despite a solid run in the past month before this week, Johnson is 2-7 with a 4.02 ERA.
Not good. Johnson has simply blown games the Orioles could not afford to lose, and if he had converted simply half the saves that were blown (six in total, so far) – the team would be far better off now.
Baltimore is now 48-39 and trail the red hot Boston Red Sox by 5 ½ games.
They not are at a crisis point yet, but the closer situation now needs some looking at.
I was hesitant to recommend that Johnson to be jettisoned from the bullpen; however, that time may be here.
Perhaps Hunter should close out games for a bit.
Then again, Buck Showalter has been loyal to Johnson and just won’t yank him from his closer duties. He was a big reason why the Orioles were successful in 2012, but being a reliever – much more a closer – can be volatile from year to year.
Maybe that’s what is happening to Johnson now.
More than ever, Johnson must figure out what is wrong and right the ship.