There has been a great deal of talk lately about the Baltimore Orioles potentially replacing Jim Johnson as closer. One of the game’s best ninth inning guys last season, Johnson has already blown three times as many saves as he did all of last year, as the O’s continue to struggle in one run games.
Naturally, some of the discussion has shifted to who the Orioles could replace him with if they choose to replace him as the closer. Perhaps even more naturally, the first topic of discussion in any of that has been Darren O’Day. One of the game’s top relief guys, he’s the most obvious choice.
However, he might not be the best. It’s certainly true that O’Day has been among the game’s best relievers since coming over to Baltimore. This season, he’s posted a 2.41 ERA and outstanding 1.03 WHIP, striking out about nine hitters per nine innings, and stranding 87 percent of base runners.
As impressive as his numbers may be, O’Day might not be the right choice to replace Johnson as closer if the Orioles were to seek a replacement for ninth inning duty. His splits are uninspiring against lefties, which wouldn’t bode well for him taking over as the closer for Baltimore.
Against righties, O’Day has been dynamite. He’s held them to a .154 average, a .214 wOBA, and has struck out 36 of them. Against left handed hitters, however, he hasn’t fared so well. They’re going for .311 off of him, with his wOBA against lefties ballooning all the way up to .401.
The splits are the reason you don’t want O’Day shifting to the closer role. Keep him where he’s had success, rather than potentially setting him up for failure. If Johnson is replaced, someone like Tommy Hunter makes much more sense. Darren O’Day has had success in his current role, keep him where he is.