Showalter not ready to remove Jim Johnson as Orioles closer

Orioles manager Buck Showalter is not ready to proclaim a change at the closers spot in the bullpen.

On Wednesday the Orioles were up 4-2 and while Johnson began to stretch the Orioles never called upon him to enter the game. Instead Showalter allowed Darren O’Day, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter to close out the ninth.

“I could have pushed it,” Showalter said. “He had been up two or three days in a row and pitched last night. He’s like second or third in appearances and I was trying real hard to stay away from him. Wei-Yin (Chen) went so deep in the game. Darren had two days off. Tommy was good for one up and in.

The question immediately became whether or not there was a deeper issue at hand.

“Oh, sure, you can read it,” Showalter said, via MASN. “We’ve got 30-something games. We’re going to put our best foot forward every night. Jimmy’s our best option, one of them. I’m glad we’ve got more than one good option. We’ve got a lot of good options and we’ll continue to make use of them.”

Johnson led the American League with 51 saves last season. His 39 saves this season are again tops in the league but this his other numbers tell a far different story. Johnson’s ERA is up over a run, his WHIP is up 35 points and then there are the nine blown saves – three times as many as he blew all of last year.

How different is 2013 for Johnson? He blew three saves in a row between Aug. 9-14.

Whether Johnson can turn things around remains to be seen. It appears Showalter is cutting him some additional slack but the Orioles are in a playoff race and can ill afford any more ninth inning disasters.

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