Oakland Athletics: Should Jim Johnson Get Another Chance To Close?


Apr 2, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Jim Johnson (45) walks off the field after blowing the save during the ninth inning in game two of a double header against the Cleveland Indians at O.co Coliseum. The Cleveland Indians defeated the Oakland Athletics 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Johnson has had his troubles so far this season. In a still very young career with the Oakland Athletics, Jim Johnson has been booed off the field on multiple occasions, and A’s fans have already started to despise him, and not without reason. As far as they are concerned, Johnson cost them two wins. His ERA sits at 9.95, and though it is early in the season, that is still a very high number. We shouldn’t rush to boot Jim Johnson from the closing job, but there are reasons to believe that he may not be the best option.

This isn’t the first year Jim Johnson has had struggles. He was very shaky last season, despite his league leading 50 saves. We have to keep in mind that he did blow a high rate of his save opportunities. Beyond that, his WHIP is currently way off the charts, at 2.81. He is walking more than one batter per inning and giving up far too many hits. He needs to bring that number way down before he can hold the closing job.

Jim Johnson is a groundball pitcher. In his past, he has not struck out many batters. This year, he has struck out eight in 5.1 innings. This could be a good sign for his future because this indicates that many batters have been hitting the ball to holes. This is a trend that is unlikely to continue, the ball has to eventually go to A’s fielders.

Besides Johnson’s issues, the depth of the A’s bullpen can afford them to not allow him another chance. The A’s bullpen is good enough to close games without Jim Johnson. Luke Gregerson, Sean Doolittle, and Fernando Abad are all good enough to close a game out. Gregerson and Doolittle are proven relievers and Abad hasn’t allowed a hit in five innings so far this season.

One is tempted to say that Jim Johnson isn’t needed. While this may be true, he is still an asset to the Oakland A’s. There are better days to come for Jim Johnson and later in the season he could be a solid force. For now, the A’s should look at their bullpen and realize that the depth is there. Bob Melvin can do what he wants.

The A’s bullpen is the last thing to worry about.