A closer look at Jim Johnson's blown saves in 2013

There are several ways to dissect Jim Johnson's struggles to close out games this season -- and there's been no shortage of people trying over the past few days. But anyone with two eyes and basic cable can see that he's not commanding his pitches as well as when he had 51 saves in 54 opportunities last year. When Johnson gets in trouble, he's usually falling behind hitters and/or leaving pitches belt-high instead of getting ahead, keeping the ball down and drawing the feeble grounders that made his ninth innings so quick and tidy in 2012. A few weeks ago we linked to an ESPN.com story that dug into closers' first-batter average. FBA looks at how well closers handle the first hitter they face and is one predictor for which closers are at the highest risk for messy innings. It didn't paint a pretty picture for Johnson, and when you look back at his nine blown saves this season, he allowed the first batter to reach base in seven of them (including all three on the road trip that just ended with a thud). It's worth noting that despite these blown saves, Johnson has a 3.52 ERA and still leads the majors with 39 saves this season. But not many occasions in sports spark more vitriol from fans than a blown save, and Johnson has been the first to stand by his locker and acknowledge that he hasn't been as effective as the Orioles need him to be. Here's a glance at each of Johnson's blown saves in 2013, which illustrates how his early trouble within innings has largely been his downfall. (Play-by-play information culled from Yahoo's box scores.) -- David Selig
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