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Brian Johnson is making his final Spring push to become a key part of the Red Sox pitching staff in 2018.
The lefty threw 4.2 scoreless innings down in Tampa, Florida against the hated Yankees today. He threw 77 pitches (48 for strikes) in yet another impressive showing, lowering his Spring Training ERA all the way down to 1.72.
Johnson is expected to take the hill in either the 4 or 5 spot in the rotation to begin the year, depending on if Eduardo Rodriguez is healthy enough to avoid the DL to kick off 2018. He’s been magnificent so far in Spring Training, pitching 15.2 innings and giving up only 10 hits and 3 walks for 3 runs while striking out 13. With his strong showing, he has all but locked up a spot on the 25 man roster.
The 29-year old is far from a power pitcher. His fastball only tops out around 88 mph, but he effectively mixes in a strong curveball and the occasional slider and changeup to keep hitters off-balance. Aside from a complete game shutout for the Sox last year, he hasn’t shown too well at the MLB level, and while he doesn’t too strong of a big league resume to show for himself (only 31 IP across two years), he has at least earned himself the opportunity to show what he’s made of going forward.
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If he pitches well enough in those few starts to begin the season, he could perhaps win a long-term place in Alex Cora’s bullpen as a long reliever / spot starter. With the possible absence of an obvious left-handed option out of the ‘pen this year (Robby Scott is the only other lefty contending for a spot), he could prove to be invaluable in more ways than one for this year’s iteration of the Red Sox.