Jim Johnson has blown saves in each of his last three appearances, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter has been adamant in support of the right-hander as his closer.
Not so long ago he had a streak of 35 straight saves converted, which is no doubt why Showalter is willing to stick with him through so many struggles now, and the long leash gives Johnson a chance to make a run at the all-time blown saves record.
Johnson has blown nine saves in 48 chances this season, putting him within striking distance of the record, which Ray Frager of CSNBaltimore.com notes is 14 shared by Rollie Fingers in 1976, Bruce Sutter in 1978, Bob Stanley in 1983, and Ron Davis in 1984.
It’s also worth noting that Johnson leads the league with 39 saves, so he’s simply had a ton of save opportunities, and with a 3.52 ERA, 41/17 K/BB ratio, and four homers allowed in 54 innings his overall numbers remain very respectable despite the nine leads coughed up and seven losses taken.
Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove is done for the year after suffering an abdominal wall muscle strain and stress reaction in his pelvic bone. While he isn’t expected to undergo surgery or miss additional time in 2019, he’s been prescribed six weeks of rest before resuming any baseball-related activities.
Musgrove, 25, finished out his third year in Pittsburgh with a 6-9 record in 19 starts, backed by a 4.06 ERA, 1.8 BB/9, and 7.8 SO/9. Despite logging a career-high 115 1/3 innings at the major league level, he’s also been dogged by a string of injuries, from the shoulder strain that robbed him of eight weeks at the start of the season to an index finger infection that kept him sidelined for a minimum 10-day stay on the disabled list in June.
While he works his way back up to full strength yet again, rookie right-hander Nick Kingham is expected to cover for him and will make a spot start during the Pirates’ series finale against the Brewers on Sunday. The 26-year-old righty hasn’t started a single game for the team since August 1, and currently carries a 4.69 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, and 8.1 SO/9 over 71 innings out of the rotation and bullpen.