July 1 can’t get here fast enough.
After some of the glowing comments Red Sox manager Terry Francona had for the latest audition for the Red Sox rotation, Cleveland Indians castoff Jason Johnson, I think it’s safe to say we’re all a bit giddy with anticipation for the righthander’s debut.
“He's always exhibited real good stuff.” Ah, the ubiquitous “good stuff.”
“He's got a breaking ball.” Stop it. How’d they find this guy?
And perhaps most endorsing of all, “We got somebody who can go out there.”
OK, so maybe it won’t be all that bad. After all, Johnson’s 2.85 to 1 ground ball to fly ball ratio is third-best in the American League, just behind Jake Westbrook and Chien Ming Wang. So maybe with a change of scenery and a stupendous defense behind him, Johnson can put together a string of decent starts. Maybe. Possibly. Perhaps…
Johnson, who is 55-94 for his career, is due $3.5 million this season and $4 million next season (with a $500,000 buyout). I repeat, 55-94.
Indians beat writer Sheldon Ocker of the Beacon Journal asks, “Why would a team with aspirations to win the World Series take on Johnson?” Mr. Ocker, I believe you’re forgetting he’s a guy who can go out there.
Jim Ingraham of IndeOnline brings us some minor, yet scary numbers courtesy of Johnson this season:
Left-handed hitters batted .403 against him. When hitters swung at his first pitch they hit .469. Even when Johnson got ahead in the count opposing teams easily handled him. On 0-2 counts opposing batters hit .333 against him. By contrast, opposing teams are hitting .045 vs. C.C. Sabathia when he’s ahead in the count 0-2. No.8 hitters hit .467 vs. Johnson, No.9 hitters hit .387, with three home runs and 10 RBI in 31 at bats. (No.8 hitters are batting .120 vs. Sabathia, No.9 hitters .125).
Hitters leading off an inning batted .447 vs. Johnson. Opposing base stealers were 13-for-13 with Johnson on the mound, the 13 steals being the fourth most allowed by any American League pitcher. Johnson has also allowed the fourth most hits (108) and thrown the fifth most wild pitches (6) of any pitcher in the league.
Nice. But he has good stuff.