So why did Jim Johnson save 94 percent of games last year (51-of-54) and is on pace for 83 percent this year (39-of-47)?
Johnson began this year saving 14-of-14. He then suffered four blown saves in five chances before saving 12 in a row. He then suffered two blown saves in four chances before saving 10 in a row. Now he has suffered back-to-back blown saves.
Yes, eight blown saves is a lot.
Johnson’s command and sink just do not seem to be at 2012 levels. Even in some of his saves he has struggled with his command. The question is why is that the case and can it be fixed?
One thing that is different from last year on the stat sheet is his batting average against. Hitters batted .220 vs. him last year and are batting .268 this season. Right-handed batters are hitting much better against him, going from .214 to an average of .287 vs. Johnson.
Johnson has walked more this year, going from 2.0 walks per nine innings last season, to 2.8 this season. But his strikeout rate is actually up and he has thrown 62 percent of his pitches for strikes this year. That is actually up too, it was 61 percent in 2012.
Is Johnson’s confidence a problem? Well, I’ve seen few players as mentally tough in my time covering the Orioles, but he is also human and when you fail at something it has to erode confidence somewhat.
Now comes the question that I know how most of you will answer - should the O’s go to someone else to close at least for the short term?