Apr 16, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Josh Johnson (55) delivers a pitch against the Chicago White Sox at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Toronto Blue Jays Reviews: Josh Johnson

Name: Josh Johnson
Position: Starting Pitcher

2009 15 5 3.23 33 209.0 184 77 75 14 58 191 7.9 0.6 3.29
2010 11 6 2.30 28 183.2 155 51 47 7 48 186 7.6 0.3 3.88
2011 3 1 1.64 9 60.1 39 13 11 2 20 56 5.8 0.3 2.80
2012 8 14 3.81 31 191.1 180 84 81 14 65 165 8.5 0.7 2.54
2013 2 8 6.20 16 81.1 105 64 56 15 30 83 11.6 1.7 2.77
9 Yrs 58 45 3.40 170 998.0 927 410 377 74 338 915 8.4 0.7 2.71
162 Game Avg. 12 9 3.40 35 206 191 84 78 15 70 189 8.4 0.7 2.71
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/18/2013.

2013 Transactions:

May 2, 2013 – Blue Jays place Johnson on 15-day DL with triceps tightness, retroactive to April 29th.

June 4, 2013 – Blue Jays activate Johnson from 15-day DL.

June 13, 2013 – Blue Jays push back Johnson’s scheduled start 4 days due to a blister.

August 13, 2013 – Blue Jays place Johnson on 15-day DL with right forearm tightness

August 28, 2013 – Blue Jays announce that Johnson will not pitch again in 2013.

October 1, 2013 – Johnson has minor elbow surgery to remove bone spurs from his pitching elbow.

2013 Expectations:

When Josh Johnson was made the centerpiece of the blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins on November 19, 2012 (along with Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck), it was safe to imagine that the Blue Jays thought they were getting the top of the rotation starter. After all, Johnson had a career ERA of 3.15, an 8.2 K/9 ratio, and a career 0.6 HR/9 ratio.

Coupled with R.A. Dickey, Buehrle, Brandon Morrow, and J.A. Happ, Johnson was meant to give Toronto a huge upgrade on an under performing and injury racked rotation from the year prior. The only real question was whether the Blue Jays would tender Josh Johnson an extension during the season or simply a qualifying offer after it.

2013 Reality:

“Reality”. That is somewhat of a misnomer when used in regards to Josh Johnson’s 2013 season. The only reality was that Johnson’s 2013 campaign was a complete nightmare, both from performance and health standpoints. Aside from the plethora of health issues mentioned in the transactions section above, Johnson also dealt with knee tendinitis this season. Even for a guy with a checkered health history, this was not an optimal output considering what the Blue Jays surrendered to bring him aboard.

Whether lingering injuries had anything to do with his performance on the mound is a complete mystery, but Johnson’s performance when “healthy” ranked him among the worst starting pitchers in the game. When the Blue Jays finally pulled the plug, Josh Johnson had made a grand total of 16 starts and accumulated a 2-8 record, a 6.20 ERA, 1.7 HR/9 ratio, and 2.77 K/BB ratio. Opposing hitters tagged Johnson to the tune of a .299 average and 11.6 Hits per nine innings pitched. Long story short, while Johnson may have got plenty of strike-outs, hitters weren’t necessarily missing many of his mistakes.

At the end of the day, Josh Johnson was a complete failure in a Blue Jays uniform and completely out of his element pitching in the American League.

2014 Outlook:

With his shoddy performance and dismal health card for 2013, any talks of a contract extension for Josh Johnson completely fizzled out. His timing couldn’t have been worse either, as the 29-year-old is set to become a free agent this winter.

The Blue Jays are said to still be considering making a qualifying offer to Johnson in the off-chance that he still generates interest on the market, but given that mark is worth $14.1 million, the team is also worried he would accept it.

For his part, Johsnon’s agent Matt Sosnick has already indicated that his client is interested in returning to Toronto. However, while common sense would say that a 1-year, low-cost incentive-laden deal would be the way to go, the Blue Jays will likely look elsewhere before settling for another year of Johnson.

Knowing what Johnson has left in the tank is a hard thing to predict. Generally speaking, impending free agents do not tank before testing the open market, so this could just be the perfect storm of things falling apart. Some team or another will take the risk on the aforementioned incentive-laden deal, hoping that Johnson will be motivated to rebuild his value. How he performs under those conditions obviously depends on his ability to take the mound consistently in 2014.

Josh Johnson has the track record to succeed. Unfortunately, the memory and pressure created by this last season will be a tough nut to overcome.

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  • david s

    There is such a thing as playing it too safe. Johnson is worth the risk. God knows, there is not a lot out there for starting pitchers. If you seriously want to contend, you will need many things going for you… one is luck, another is JJ being healthy and untouchable.

    Seriously, without him being top notch, the Jays will only have two inning eaters, a power pitcher who may need Tommy John, an acquisition, and a barely acceptable fifth starter. So take Johnson at 8 million. If he blows, then send him to Buffalo until he gets better or forget him. No other team, would touch him because of the cost if he cannot produce. It would be worth it if he is healthy, the Jays could contend.

    If you do not have him the Jays will not make it. If he cannot regain form it is the same situation. There is only one choice. At least, as it stands now he is cheaper.

    I think most fans would want him back and take the risk… at a better price than 14 million though.

    • Andrew van Laar

      I tend to agree with you a bit but I think $8 million can buy improvements elsewhere, particularly catcher or strengthening out bench to have some decent players coming off it. I also think spending money on pitching that is a bit more of a “sure thing” would be prudent after what happened last year. You can’t gamble again and AA know that.

      • david s

        I agree that we need improvement on the bench and catching. Yet, the number one issue I think you would agree is starting pitching.

        I believe with AA that a acquiring ace starter is needed. I also think that power pitching is the only way to contend in the AL East. Dickey and Buerhle will probably burn through 400 innings in 2014, yet, they are not like the pitchers one sees starting in the playoffs.

        Morrow and Johnson will dominate and get wins if they are healthy. One more such a starter is needed. Someone like that will be very hard to find. Johnson is; therefore, necessary if the Jays are to be successful. I would go so far as to bring up Stroman in April.

        Rogers, Redmond and Happ are fine for a fifth starter on a .500 level team. They are not what the Jays will need to beat The Red Sox.

        • Andrew van Laar

          I agree that starting pitching is definitely what is needed most. Bust relying on Josh Johnson to 1) bounce back and put up good numbers (reasonable good chance that he will) and 2) stay healthy for the majority of the season (much less likely) are massive risks for the jays. From what I’ve seen, he would be coming back for around $8 million with incentives on a one year. I would prefer using that 8 million on a healthier pitcher who might have as much electric ‘stuff’ as Johnson, but will stay in the game and have an 3.50 -3.80 ERA.

          Im terms of Morrow, you CANNOT pencil him in for anything higher that your number 4 or 5 pitcher. I have never understood This need for Jays fans to make him this mystical ace. He has showed in one year (and only in about half the innings an ace would be expected to pitch) that he can be that guy. As a starter his best season ERA is 4.49. He has trouble staying healthy and has done nothing in my opinion to warrant conversation as a top starter on this team. He has to prove with consistency and staying on the mound that he is the real deal. Has all the right ‘stuff’ but he is way to inconsistent IMO.