MLB Rumors: Why Marlins Should Skip Josh Johnson's Next Start
After his most recent porous start (there's a lot of porous starts on his resume this year) that saw his ERA rise to 6.61, manager Ozzie Guillen wondered if his ace was really 100 percent.
"I just wonder if he not feeling good," Guillen wondered aloud of Johnson, who was knocked out in the third inning after giving up six runs to the low-scoring Padres and squandering a 5-0 lead. "He says he feels good, but his stuff is not there. A lot of bad pitches. I think right now what is killing him is he does not have any command with his pitches."
There's two ways you can approach this if you're someone who enjoys speculating on these types of things.
The first part of Oswaldo's quote ("I just wonder if he not feeling good") points towards a potential injury for Johnson, who has had elbow problems in the past.
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The second part, however, about the lack of command, suggests that Johnson is simply suffering from a lack of confidence and is just having a bad month or two—it happens.
When deciding what to do to solve this problem, it's important to figure out exactly what's wrong. Is it an injury? Or is just no confidence and a lack of concentration?
If Johnson, who has an embarrassing 1.88 WHIP, is suffering from a lack of command, you would expect his walks to be up. Instead, his walk percentage is 8.2 percent, just 0.1 percent higher than his eight-year career average.
He's finding the strike zone. He's just getting absolutely hammered when he does find it, as evidenced by his 13.5 hits allowed per nine innings (almost three times as much as last year!).
Obviously there's more to the command problem than just walks. He needs to be hitting the spots on the outside of the plate instead of just lobbing meatballs down the middle, but nonetheless, I don't think Johnson's problem is completely command-related.
What is more concerning about Johnson?
The bigger problem, instead, is his lack of velocity.
Johnson's average fastball this year is 92.8 miles per hour, which is a mile-and-a-half slower than his career average. To me, that means Johnson has a tired arm.
And therein lies the star pitcher's problem. He hasn't been able to dial back on his fastball, and thus he can't make up for the lack of command.
So, in essence, his problems are a combination of command and velocity, but the velocity is much more worrisome and way bigger of a deal. That's why taking a start off or even just having it pushed back would do Johnson more good than fighting through his struggles.
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