O's Jim Johnson, Matusz worth tracking 

February, 8, 2012
As a longtime follower of Baltimore Orioles right-hander Jim Johnson, I'm pretty interested in seeing what role he ends up in. Johnson was really good in 2011, finishing with a 2.67 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, and doing so with 91 relief innings, which ranked second to Alfredo Aceves of the Boston Red Sox. Johnson also saved nine games, most coming in September. The recent acquisition of Matt Lindstrom makes one wonder if Johnson could potentially be headed to the starting rotation, which is a role he has previously requested.

Jim Johnson? Matt Lindstrom? And there's still Kevin Gregg. Seems like a mess to some, but there's clearly fantasy upside here. Johnson isn't a strikeout guy, but he just missed being one of the top 10 relievers in the game last season, according to FanGraphs WAR (wins above replacement). Yes, the Orioles aren't going to win many games, but we've seen bad teams produce 25-save closers before. Johnson has the skills to succeed ... but will he have the job?

I think we can finally assume Gregg isn't the leading candidate. For years this average right-hander would be written off by fantasy owners and still find his way to 20-plus saves. Saves are saves, even if they're ugly, and those owners who used a late-round pick on him benefited from it. Even last season, Gregg saved 22 games, 15 in the first half, for the 93-loss Orioles. In the past five seasons for four franchises he somehow has averaged 29 saves (and a 3.89 ERA and 1.35 WHIP). There's value in that, especially if you find those saves sitting in free agency in April.