Is Jim Johnson The Answer For The Detroit Tigers Bullpen?


Aug 17, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher

Jim Johnson

(49) pitches in the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

When the Detroit Tigers signed Jim Johnson, formerly of the Oakland Athletics, I knew as long as he pitched decent in Toledo he would be in Detroit sooner or later.  After Saturday’s 4-2 win over Seattle they purchased his contract from Toledo in yet another attempt by Dave Dombrowski to fix the bullpen.   This move is protection just in case he does not as well as giving Brad Ausmus the flexibility to remove Joe Nathan as the closer if he falters at all. Hopefully Joakim Soria will come back from his injury and return to form.

Joe Nathan started out really bad this year however has turned it around for the better recently.  He also still occasionally has a bad outing so if he is still inconsistent down the stretch, Ausmus could give the closer job to Johnson if we make the playoffs.

Whether Joe Nathan is able to become consistent has a lot to do with whether he can put the chin flick behind him. Nathan felt compelled to apologize again for his profane gesture toward the crowd after the game on Saturday.

”I apologized on Thursday, but I still feel terrible for my actions, so I want to apologize again,” said Nathan, who didn’t celebrate after the final out. ”I’ll keep apologizing until the fans understand how upset I am that I let my frustration get the best of me. I don’t want my entire career to be known for three seconds of anger.”

My point is all of this will be moot if the bullpen somehow figures it out and starts to pitch well.  In a perfect world the bullpen would set up like this Joba Chamberlain in the 6th or 7th, Joakim Soria 7th or 8th, Jim Johnson in the 8th and Joe Nathan as the main closer. Either Joakim Soria or Jim Johnson could fill in as closer when Nathan needs a rest.  When these pitchers are at their best this would be a pretty formidable bullpen.  At this point I might be ok with just 2 of these guys working out the way the bullpen has performed this year. Hopefully they will get it fixed and make the playoffs either by the wild card or by winning the division and then take our chances in the playoffs.