Is Jim Johnson the closer of the A’s future?
Probably. Almost certainly.
And when would that future be?
Well, it could come as early as Friday when the A’s play host to Houston to start a two-team homestand in the Coliseum.
Johnson, deposed as closer about two weeks into the season because of his inconsistencies, has pitched five innings of scoreless baseball in his last three games and has won two of them.
A’s manager Bob Melvin was ready to use him to close if the A’s ever got the lead in extra innings against the Angels Wednesday. That didn’t happen. And it’s not clear how much that means, because at the time Johnson would have closed Wednesday, the other candidates had either already pitched or were getting the day off.
And moving Johnson back into the closer’s role is no sure thing. The A’s have done well with Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson doing matchup closing with a little support from Dan Otero. And the quickly recovering from a stint on the disabled list Ryan Cook will be in the mix soon if he’s not already.
The A’s have the best record in the American League. Does Melvin want to play with a system that works? He may say `no’ in the short term, but the long term answer is probably `yes.’
The other A’s relievers expect Johnson to move back into the role and Johnson himself said the flurry of ground ball outs the Angels were hitting off him in Tuesday’s win suggested his sinker was back where it needs to be.
Now for Melvin, it’s just a matter of finding the perfect time to make the move back.