Jim Johnson, being paid $10 million to close, has lost the closing job for the Oakland Athletics. Given how he has been pitching this season, the news delivered by Oakland’s manager Bob Melvin, shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
In five games and only 3.1 innings, Johnson has lost two games. He has blown one save and recorded a 18.90 ERA. Most worryingly, his 4.50 WHIP clearly showing he simply couldn’t get batters out.
Batters were swinging at only 23% of his pitches from outside the strike zone, on the contrast, they were swinging at 59% of his pitches from inside the strike zone. On the whole, hitters had a 81% contact percentage against him, a rather scary prospect for a closer on $10-million-a-year.
In the last two years, Johnson destroyed hitters with his fastball, curveball and changeup. This year, however, the batting average against his fastball was .667 and his changeup .600. Another scary stat, his runners left on base percentage has dropped by just over 20% to 56%.
It’s not hard to see why the Athletics originally moved for Johnson. In the last two years, with the Baltimore Orioles, he recorded 101 saves with a 2.72 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. The previously dominant Johnson has been nowhere to be seen in Oakland.
Whilst Melvin didn’t specify who would fill the void. Sean Doolittle is vastly regarded as the favourite with Luke Gregerson also in the running. Doolittle is the owner of a career 3.03 ERA and a career 0.99 WHIP. He has also struck out 125 batters in only 121 innings, again over his two and a bit years in the majors.