On Wednesday, August 8, the Blue Jays will play the second of a three-game series against the division rival Red Sox. The Blue Jays have assigned the newly-acquired Mike Hauschild to the start while Boston will send Brian Johnson to the hill.
Brian Johnson was drafted and raised in the Boston Red Sox system. Taken in 2012 as a first-round pick, the left-hander made his debut with the big club in 2015. In just one start, he pitched four and two-thirds innings, allowing four earned runs.
The former first-round pick has already pitched against the Blue Jays this season, twice in fact. The first time the big lefty pitched against the Jays this year was in relief as part of a 12-inning affair. In one of the few bright spots this season, Luke Maile hit a walk-off home run against the left-hander to seal the Toronto victory. In his second game and first start against the Jays, the left-handed hurler lasted just four and two-thirds innings, giving up two hits, four walks, and two earned runs.
A relatively steady long-man/spot starter, the 27-year-old was quite uncharacteristic in his last start against the New York Yankees. As part of the wild four-game sweep of the Yanks, the pitcher struck out eleven batters over five innings pitched. For reference, that is only ten total strikeouts behind his total in 2017—when he made five starts. This isn’t to say that the pitcher played well in his start, though. The Boston hurler allowed five runs (four earned) across his five innings of work.
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Johnson has had a solid season for the Red Sox this season. Appearing in 28 games and seven starts, the left-hander has posted a 3.74 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 1.415 WHIP, and 118 ERA+. However, with most of his appearances coming out of the bullpen, he has been worth just 0.5 fWAR.
The Red Sox hurler has thrown his four-seam fastball 50% of the time this season. The four-seamer is not that fast, maintaining an average velocity of 89.06 mph. The heater has not been effective, either, allowing a .282 BAA and .513 SLGA.
Johnson has broken off hooks 27.09% of the time this season. The breaking ball sweeps and drops hard to the glove side while maintaining a slow average velocity of 75.51 mph. The big breaker has been good for the 27-year-old, producing 24 strikeouts and allowing a small .236 BAA and .337 SLGA.
The left-handed hurler has used his slider 19.64% of the time this season. The breaking ball is not that hard, holding an average speed of 79.15 mph. The pitch has allowed a lot of hits—giving up a .313 BAA—but only three hits have gone for extra bases.
The southpaw completes his pitching repertoire with occasional sinkers and change-ups. The sinker and change have been used 1.91% and 1.36% of the time this season, respectively. The sinking fastball has never been hit—but it has walked a batter. The off-speed pitch has given up one single and has never produced a strikeout.
While Johnson does not rack up high strikeout totals out of the bullpen, he does have decent strikeout and walk numbers, overall. This season he has produced a 22.3% K-rate and 8.72 K/9. As well, he has been slightly above average in terms of walks allowed, giving up a 7.8% BB-rate and 3.05 BB/9.
The Blue Jays, as a team, have been very good against the lefty in limited experience. Leading the way, Kevin Pillar has four hits—including two doubles—in seven trips to the plate. As well, Justin Smoak has gone three-for-seven with two doubles against the Florida native. However, Russell Martin has only gone one-for-eight against the pitcher—the one hit was a home run, though.
The Blue Jays have hit Johnson well in the past, but he has been quite good this season. As well, Mike Hauschild will look to follow-up with another strong game after stealing the hearts of Blue Jays fans in Seattle.