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Fantasy baseball: Jim Johnson already out as Oakland Athletics closer

Oakland Athletics pitcher Jim Johnson (45) is relieved

Oakland Athletics pitcher Jim Johnson (45) is relieved by manager Bob Melvin, rear, during the ninth inning of a game against the Cleveland Indians in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, April 2, 2014. Credit: AP / Jeff Chiu

It’s just over a week into the season and the Oakland Athletics' Jim Johnson has already lost the closer’s job.

After Johnson's latest bad outing Wednesday, A’s manager Bob Melvin told reporters Thursday: "We’re going to give Jim a break."

Johnson gave up two earned runs on two hits and two walks in just 1/3 of an inning Wednesday. In just 3.1 innings over five appearances this year, Johnson is 0-2 with an 18.90 ERA, 4.50 WHIP and a blown save. He did manage to pick up one save on April 6, dropping his previous 22.50 ERA to 15.00 in one of only two unblemished outings this season.

The A's traded for the former Baltimore Orioles closer in December in exchange for Jemile Weeks and minor-leaguer David Freitas. It was an unprecedented move for the “Moneyball” team, as Johnson cost them $10 million this season.

Johnson led the American League in saves each of the past two seasons. He notched 51 in 2012 and 50 in 2013, so it's hard to believe he won't get another chance to close this season.

Oakland will go to a closer-by-committee, with candidates of Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle, Luke Gregerson and Dan Otero, at least temporarily until Johnson straightens himself out. Cook and Gregerson are the most likely to get save opportunities — each has 16 career saves. Either is worth owning in deeper formats.

Cook started the year on the disabled list, but is off to a good start since his return. The 26-year-old righthander made his 2014 debut Monday and hasn't allowed a hit in two innings. His pitch count has been high in both appearances (21 and 20, respectively) and he's walked three batters, but he should settle in going forward. Gregerson has a 1.80 ERA and four strikeouts in five innings this season.

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