Nineteen days have passed since Jim Johnson was unceremoniously relieved of his closing duties after a series of combustible outings in the early stages of 2014. In the period since, a closer by committee lead by the matchup oriented timeshare of Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson have handled closing duties with subpar results. Futhermore, the order of the bullpen has been disrupted with Dan Otero facing an inordinate amount of high-leverage situations as the Athletics have carefully worked in a recovering Ryan Cook with Fernando Abad essentially moving up the late inning pecking order.
After less than stellar results, it appears the Athletics are finally ready to turn their attention to their resident $10 million dollar man and return him to his rightful post at the backend of the Oakland bullpen. As reported in yesterday’s edition of her Drumbeat section on sfgate.com, Athletics beat writer Susan Slusser insinuated that Johnson’s current six-inning scoreless streak has catapulted the 30-year old back into the good graces of upper management. Furthermore, his signature sinker has grown gradually more potent since his mound misadventures earlier in the month.
His last appearance on Sunday in Houston was perhaps his finest exposition since being reassigned, retiring the side in order on just nine pitches, while striking out two. Now the questions lingers of whether he’ll be able to rise to the occasion against the meatier orders of the American League, and fend off the pressure of the penultimate inning of the game. A familiar role that watched him record over 100 saves as a Baltimore Oriole from 2012-13. With the calendar turning to a new month on Thursday, it appears that the time is ripe to wipe the slate clean, and start over with Jim Johnson.