2013 Toronto Blue Jays Reviews: Josh Johnson


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

Name: Josh Johnson
Position: Starting Pitcher

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.