After latest ninth-inning struggles, what is Showalter’s next move with Jim Johnson?

First of all, I don’t have great answers to the two pressing questions of the day: What is wrong with Jim Johnson and will Buck Showalter give Johnson the ball today at Washington if a save situation presents itself?

As for the second question, Showalter did say he would go to Johnson today on the MASN postgame interview Sunday. However, you have to wonder if Johnson will even be available after throwing 14 pitches Saturday and 37 yesterday.

Now here are the raw numbers: Over his last six games, Johnson is 1-for-5 in save chances, has three losses and an ERA of 21.60.

He has pitched five innings in those games, allowing 13 hits and 12 runs (all earned) with three walks and two strikeouts. He has thrown a total of 128 pitches in that time, just 74 (57.8 percent) for strikes.

During that stretch, batters are hitting .500 off Johnson at 13-for-26. On the season, he has an ERA in the ninth inning of 5.85 and batting average against of .299. He has allowed 10 hits in 19 at-bats this year when pitching with runners in scoring position.

There is absolutely no chance Johnson is going to the minors and he’s out of options anyway.

So what is the best move for the Orioles here? Rest him for a few days, pitch him earlier in the game, make him the setup man or just keep giving him the ball and hope he works it out?

The Orioles bullpen as a whole has been struggling. The bullpen ERA was 10.29 in the Toronto series and is 7.93 over the last 12 games, a stretch where the team is 4-8.

The Orioles just went 4-3 against the Yankees and Blue Jays, and if Johnson had recorded the two blown saves in that stretch, it could have been 6-1.

Can the Orioles afford to give the ball to Johnson in the ninth inning right now? I know how the large, large majority of fans will answer that question.

But how will Showalter answer the question and what ramifications will that have for the rest of this season?

Rodriguez on a roll: Eduardo Rodriguez, the 20-year-old lefty starting pitcher for the Single-A Frederick Keys, pitched another solid game Sunday, allowing just one run and four hits over seven innings as the Keys beat Salem. Rodriguez is 5-2 on the year with a 3.32 ERA over nine starts.

Over his five starts in May, Rodriguez is 4-0 with a 2.38 ERA and .205 average against. He has allowed one earned run or less in three of those starts, going seven innings or more four times. Impressive run for the talented, young lefty from Venezuela.

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