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Brian Johnson continued his quest for a long-term spot on the Red Sox roster with a solid performance in his first start of the year.
Brian Johnson made just his 6th career Major League start Monday night vs. the Marlins. He showed really well for himself, collecting 5 K’s on 82 pitches over 6 innings, allowing just 6 hits and 1 run. His lone blemish came on a Brian Anderson home run in the 2nd, when he left middle-out fastball waist high that Anderson turned on. Other than that, Johnson located his fastball and mixed in his off-speed stuff well, allowing only 7 other baserunners during his time on the mound.
It was an important display for Johnson, as he’s fighting to remain in the squad once Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz return to health. There’s only two scenarios which lead to that ultimate goal, one being far more likely than the other.
Johnson could theoretically pitch lights out over his limited starts early on this season and steal the permanent 5th starter spot away from the talented but inconsistent and oft-injured Rodriguez. More likely, though, is he performs consistently well and wins a spot in the bullpen as a long reliever/spot starter, bumping either Marcus Walden or Bobby Poyner down to the minors.
Johnson is out of options in his contract, so his role within the organization as a whole is dependent on the will of Alex Cora and the rest of the Red Sox coaching staff.
If he hopes to remain a Red Sox, he must stay up on the Major League roster, meaning he’s pitching for his professional life. So far he has stepped up, but continuing that success is imperative for him, and it’s a very intriguing early-season storyline to keep an eye on.