Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Jim Johnson in the 9th was the right move.
There has been a lot of grumbling around the internet and in the open thread today about how Buck Showalter shouldn't have brought Jim Johnson in during the 9th inning last night. It's absolutely preposterous to say that bringing JJ in was not only a bad thing, but a bad thing that Buck Showalter should have known better than to do before it happened.
But Jim Johnson gave up five runs on Sunday! Well, the argument from people on that night was that he couldn't handle a non-save situation (not true, he did it 16 out of 17 times in the regular season), and then he came back the next night and was filthy when he locked down the O's 3-2 win. And last night WAS a save situation. You can't have it both ways, people!
Here are Jim Johnson's platoon splits this season:
vs RHB: .214/.267/.259
vs LHB: .225/.277/.304
Not too shabby on either end. He's certainly capable of retiring hitters on both sides of the plate, and he's been doing it all year long, with righties getting 121 PA in 2012 and lefties getting 148.
Those lefty splits aren't as good as Troy Patton's (.212/.262/.292) or Brian Matusz's (.175/.230/.298). But in a world where you play the match ups SO specifically like that, if Matusz starts the inning against Ichiro Suzuki, and then Buck brings in Johnson to face A-Rod, guess what? Joe Girardi still pinch hits with Raul Ibanez. And if you don't bring in Johnson, you've got Alex Rodriguez facing Brian Matusz and his >.900 OPS against righties this season (I know most of that was when he was starting, but I still trust JJ more against righties any day of the week).
Or maybe the naysayers wanted JJ to come in against Ichiro but then get pulled for Matusz when Girardi announced the pinch hitter? But what's the difference in facing Ibanez or Ichiro? If you haven't paid attention, Ichiro has been red hot since coming to New York.
There are a lot of ways to split it, and hindsight makes everyone a genius. But the fact is that Ibanez didn't hit a home run off of Jim Johnson because JJ is a right-handed. He hit a home run off of him because JJ didn't make his pitch. The same thing happened to Matusz in the 12th inning, giving the Orioles the loss.
Jim Johnson is the best overall reliever in the Orioles bullpen, and bringing him in last night was absolutely the right decision. If the Orioles go into the ninth tonight with a 1-run lead, I hope to see him again.