Before we get into today’s article I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone and their families a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you all enjoy your day, however you celebrate it.
A fourth round draft pick of the Marlins in 2002, Josh Johnson returned from Tommy John Surgery this season to pitch significantly better then anyone could have expected. Having made only 4 starts in 2007 prior to being shut down, he returned to the major leagues on July 10 and instantly made an impact. No, it wasn’t all rays of sunshine, as he had his ups and downs, but overall he has certainly given owners hope heading into 2009.
His final numbers for ’08 were:
77 Strikeouts (7.94 K/9)
27 Walks (2.78 BB/9)
.270 Batting Average Against
The walks were certainly the biggest surprise, as he had never been that type of control pitcher prior to his injury. In 2006, over 157 innings, he walked 68 batters, a BB/9 of 3.90. The question is, which is the real Johnson?
There’s no doubt that he has talent, being ranked the Marlins third best prospect back in 2006. Still, at Double A in ’05 prior to his recall he had walked 3.22 batters per 9 innings, so I find it a little bit hard to believe that after the surgery he suddenly found the strike zone. Just look at Francisco Liriano’s numbers for proof.
The strikeouts are a number that I could see him continuing, or at least coming pretty close to. It’s along the lines of what he did at Double A in ’05, which helped to put him on the map (7.28 K/9). Obviously it’s not among the elite in the league, so don’t grab him thinking that he will buoy your team in strikeouts. Still, he’s obviously a pitcher that will chip in and help your cause in K’s.
It’s questionable how good the Marlins are going to be, especially given the moves they’ve already made. Top players like Scott Olsen, Mike Jacobs and Josh Willingham have already been shipped out of town, replaced with prospects and middle relievers. Yeah, they aren’t the top players on the team, but they were pieces that were counted on and replacing them is not going to be easy. It also makes owners wonder who may be the next sent packing, meaning that the Marlins could again be going through a full rebuilding.
That makes it nearly impossible to guess the number of wins that Johnson could accumulate. Still, it would be a surprise if he didn’t at least reach double-digits, though I wouldn’t count on 15 or more.
Let’s see exactly what I am looking at from him this season:
168.0 IP, 10 W, 3.86 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 146 K (7.82 K/9), 62 BB (3.32 BB/9)
Yes, I see him as a usable option in ’09, but I just don’t see him becoming one of the elite stars of the game. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have the talent to get there, and I think he will show signs of taking that step, but 2010 seems like the year he could fully emerge to me.