An overused JJ is a wild JJ

orioles player with arm back before pitching

After putting an end to a four-game losing streak the previous night the Orioles looked set to make it two straight in the win column against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the case as the Indians scored twice in the top of the ninth inning to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead.

With a save situation at hand Jim Johnson came in put the finishing touches on the game, but was unable to do so and ended up being saddled with his sixth loss of the year. Johnson walked the first batter he faced, Michael Brantley, on four straight pitches. Then 42-year old Jason Giambi showed he’s still capable of putting a charge into a baseball, following with a long double. In almost the blink of an eye the Indians had runners on second and third with no outs and even the most diehard Orioles fans could be forgiven for thinking “Here we go again.”

Johnson is most effective when he keeps the baseball in the lower portion of the strike zone, utilizing a hard sinker. While he was able to get Lonnie Chisenhall and Drew Stubbs to both hit ground balls, usually his recipe for success, pitches in these locations isn’t generally going to result in success for JJ.

 

FF – Four-seam Fastball, CH – Changeup, CU – Curveball, FT – Two-seam Fastball

It’s probably worth noting (and was pointed out by ESR’s Derek Arnold) that Jim Johnson appeared in Monday’s game as well as the one on Tuesday, throwing 23 pitches each night. Johnson had not thrown 20+ pitches back-to-back days this season prior to then.

Did Jim’s workload earlier in the week catch up to him Wednesday? It’s certainly up for debate.

Johnson pitched three consecutive days April 22-24 and June 9-11. On April 24th Johnson picked up the loss, allowing two hits, a walk, and a run to the Blue Jays. He recorded a save, but did give up two hits and a run June 11 versus the Angels.

With zero days rest in 2013, Johnson has allowed 14 hits in 47 at-bats (.298 avg), including four of the six doubles he’s given up, and issued six of his 12 walks.

Tony Pente of OriolesHangout.com has more:

Jim Johnson’s stats when he pitches on 0 days rest in 2013:

5.84 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, .298 bavg, .400 OBP

Johnson with 1 or 2 days rest:
0.47 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, .164 bavg, .208 OBP

Three times Johnson has pitch back to back to back days this season. In all three of those last outings he was scored upon.

Stats in 3rd game of pitching back to back to back days:
15.43 ERA, 3.43 WHIP, .385 bavg, .500 OBP

After a stellar 2012 where he suffered just three blown saves, while recording a major league-leading 51, Johnson now has five blown saves so far in 2013. Jim’s ERA is up from 2.49 to 4.03 and opposing batters are hitting .245/.323/.353 against him, as opposed to .220/.272/.284 a season ago.

Last night could just be a blip on the radar. Johnson had converted 12 straight save opportunities since failing to shut the door against the Blue Jays on May 26. He allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings during that span, lowering his ERA from 5.25 to 3.62.

However, the stretch from May 14-26 where Jim surrendered 12 earned runs over five innings (including four blown saves) is still fresh in the minds of many O’s fans. And outings like last night certainly won’t help those who bleed orange & black put that period behind them.

If the Orioles are going to make a push for the playoffs Jim Johnson is going to have to be as big a part of the second half as he was last year. Let’s hope he starts another extended run of success today.

 

Stats via Baseball Reference and images via Brooks Baseball

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About Gordon Dixon

Gordon Dixon
Born and raised in the Baltimore area, I've followed the Orioles for as long as I can remember. If I'm not at Oriole Park at Camden Yards I can probably be found in front of the television watching them on MASN. I've had the opportunity to contribute to various online...more

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