Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 8/16/13
After blowing just three saves in 54 save opportunities last season, Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson has blown nine saves in 2013, including his last three. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume / Getty Images) The Baltimore Orioles had the opportunity to collect some wins on their latest West Coast trip. The O’s won four of five games between a two-game series in San Diego and a three-game series against San Francisco, but when the team traveled to Arizona the road trip came to a disappointing conclusion. The Orioles led the D-backs heading into the 7th inning in all three games of the series and in the final two games, it was Jim Johnson, the Orioles closer, who blew the save (Johnson also blew the save in the first game of the San Francisco series). These were blown saves #7, #8 and #9 on the season for Johnson, who blew just three saves all of last season — now he’s blown three in a week, for the second time this season (he failed to convert saves on May 14, 18 and 20). Though Johnson till leads the majors in saves (39), you couldn’t blame Orioles fans, players or coaches if they were a little concerned when Johnson entered a game with a small lead. Opponents are batting .271 off Johnson this season and his 3.52 ERA is the highest of the 13 closers ranked 1-12 in terms of saves. So, what can manager Buck Showalter do about Jim Johnson? More of the same; do nothing and keep Johnson as the team’s closer: Showalter has been loyal to Johnson and after earning the Rolaids Relief Man Award last season who can blame him. In 2012 Johnson was almost a guaranteed save when he entered games. From Aug. through Oct. in the regular season, Johnson allowed just one earned run. But in Game 1 of the ALDS against the New York Yankees, he was rocked for four earned runs including a homer and that seemed to be a change in the winds in terms of confidence. So maybe Showalter sticks with him and Johnson figures it out as the team enters the last month and a half of the regular season. Earlier today Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair took a personal leave of absence, so maybe Bill Castro, the Oriole bullpen coach and fill-in for Adair, can work out some of Johnson’s issues. Use Francisco Rodriguez:  Francisco Rodriguez set a MLB record 62 saves in 2008, will the Baltimore Orioles call on him to return to the role of closer? (Photo credit: Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports) On July 23 the O’s acquired Francisco Rodriguez from the Milwaukee Brewers and one reason for doing so may have been as a back-up plan for Johnson. Rodriguez has oodles of closer experience — he collected save #300 earlier this season. This season between Milwaukee and Baltimore (34 games), Rodriguez has a 1.87 ERA. Opponents are batting just .195 against him and he has converted all 10 of his save opportunities. Use someone else: The Orioles have other relievers that have shined when the team has needed them to. Tommy Hunter and Darren O’Day, both former Texas Rangers, have been steady figures in the bullpen. O’Day, a submarine-style pitcher who has been lights out since coming to Baltimore, has a team low 2.45 ERA this season. He has converted two of his four save opportunities and opponents are batting .219 against him. Hunter, a former starter turned reliever, has a better opponent average (.209) and WHIP (0.93) than O’Day (.219/1.03) and Johnson (.271/1.34) in 65.1 innings pitched (compared to O’Day’s 51.1 and Johnson’s 53.2). Hunter has a 2.76 ERA this year and has converted three of his five save opportunities. Both are right handed pitchers who have been two consistent performers all season. Perhaps they could carry over that consistency into the role of closer. Acquire someone through trade waivers: While the Orioles have a few internal options, there are trades that can still be made post trade deadline. The players traded must first clear waivers before a trade could be made but it is possible the O’s could make a move for another reliever. Who they would look at and who they could acquire are two different questions and it’s unclear whether they’re looking to make more transactions. Chime in: What do you think is the best option? Or is there another route you’d take?

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Hernandez's prison calls to Pouncey could come up in trial

Josh Hamilton experiences pain in reconstructed knee, leaves camp

Report: Pacers gauging trade market for Paul George

Washington eyeing Romo as potential Cousins replacement?

Joey Porter fight video from outside bar released

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Celtics’ unwillingness to deal Crowder roadblock in Butler deal

Sammy Sosa compares himself to Jesus talking about PED accusations

Philip Rivers: ‘I will always be playing for San Diego’

Yankees dramatically increase ticket prices for Derek Jeter Night

Report: Sixers may consider Noel trade if Okafor is not moved

Report: Belichick wants to coach at least five more years, outlast Brady

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

Box Score 2/22: Not everyone is happy with the new intentional walk rule

Teams and players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

'Playmakers' in Ice Cube's league who can help the Cavs

Box Score 2/21: It's trade heartbreak season

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

We got our hands on the new Nintendo Switch, here are our first impressions

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win the MVP award

Teams, players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

'Playmakers' in Ice Cube's league who can help the Cavs

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win 100 games with two different teams

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker