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.
The Mariners are in the midst of reconstructing their roster, a process which most recently resulted in the trade of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While the teams have yet to publicly confirm the deal, the Mariners are expected to receive pitching prospect Juan Then and will likely eat a significant portion of Encarnación’s salary as well.
Encarnación is a sizable get for the Yankees, who could benefit from the veteran’s power and consistency in their ongoing drive toward the postseason. The 36-year-old infielder missed some time with a bout of lower back tightness, dental issues, and soreness in his left hand, but has still maintained a decent .241/.356/.531 batting line with an AL-best 21 home runs, an .888 OPS, and 1.7 fWAR through his first 289 plate appearances of the year. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Encarnación has another $11-12 million left on his contract in 2019, with a $20 million option for the 2020 season and a $5 million buyout.
Then, 19, was acquired by the Yankees in a three-person trade with the Mariners during the 2017 offseason. The right-hander currently ranks no. 27 in the Yankees’ system and made his last pro ball appearance for New York’s rookie-level affiliate in 2018, pitching to a 2.70 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, and 7.6 SO/9 across 50 innings. It’s not clear if any other players are involved in the trade, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that no other prospects are thought to be included in the package for Encarnación.