Baltimore’s surprising closer has been overshadowed by Tampa Bay’s surprising closer, but Jim Johnson notched his 51st save Tuesday in the 1-0 win over the Rays.
That moves Johnson into a tie for ninth place on the all-time single-season saves list with Dennis Eckersley (1992) and Rod Beck (1998). He’s the first closer to save 50 games since the Angels’ Francisco Rodriguez broke the major league record with 62 in 2008.
Of course, Johnson does things a bit differently than most closers. He has just 41 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings this season. The 11 other pitchers with 50-save seasons had strikeout totals ranging from 66 (Mariano Rivera, 2004) to 137 (Eric Gagne, 2003).
With 51 saves and 41 strikeouts, Johnson will be the 13th pitcher ever to finish with 30 saves and at least as many saves as strikeouts. Todd Jones did it in back-to-back years in 2006-07 (and had 18 saves and 14 strikeouts in 2008). Danny Kolb is the only closer to have a more extreme split than Johnson here; he had 39 saves and 21 strikeouts for the Brewers in 2004.
Steve Phillips of MLB Network Radio reports that one or more of the prospects headed from the Dodgers to the Orioles in the Manny Machado deal have issues with their physicals. As a result, the trade may have hit a snag and the door may be open for other clubs. So far, it appears that Phillips is the only one reporting this, but things have otherwise been quiet on the Machado front since last night’s news.
According to Fancred’s Jon Heyman, Dodgers outfield prospect Yusniel Diaz is believed to be the centerpiece of the deal. The Dodgers apparently prefer to hold on to pitching prospect Dustin May and middle infield prospect Gavin Lux.
The first-place Dodgers have been playing Chris Taylor at shortstop since Corey Seager went down with a season-ending injury. The club has also gotten minimal production out of second base, which has mostly been handled by Logan Forsythe and Chase Utley. Adding Machado to play shortstop would allow Taylor to move over to second base.
Machado, 26, hit .315/.387/.575 with 24 home runs, 65 RBI, 48 runs scored, and eight stolen bases in 413 plate appearances in the first half. Defensive metrics have rated his defense at shortstop as subpar, uncharacteristically.