The Red Sox Brian Johnson has struggled with injuries both physical and mental before his solid 2018 contribution. Now Johnson is facing another struggle.

When you are a pitcher your career circulates around the continued stability of your arm. Today’s baseball has a rite of passage that is all too often occurring with pitchers at all levels and that is Tommy John Surgery. The stress on the arm in today’s game has consequences and that means employment opportunities for orthopedic surgeons.

Lefty Brian Johnson has been placed on the newly named injured list with what is classified as elbow inflammation. Just what direction will this take for Johnson? Johnson is not a novice when it comes to injuries and being open about his struggles with depression and anxiety.


The now 28-years-old former number one draft choice (2012) finally achieved a level of success in 2018 as a swingman that including 13 starts (4-3, 4.15). This season Johnson was called on early with three relief appearance encompassing 3.1 innings allowing just one run. Then it happened. Arizona lit up Johnson like the Esplanade on the Fourth of July with seven earned runs in just 1.1 innings. The IL was the next move.

The Red Sox rotation has – to be kind – struggled.  The much-doubted bullpen has pitched reasonably well, but Johnson did represent the only lefty available. Johnson is certainly not considered a rotation or even a bullpen stalwart but is still a valued contributor.

The Red Sox replaced Johnson with right-hander Marcus Walden a feel-good story from 2018 who finally made it to the show after 11 seasons in the minors. The most likely lefty system option is Bobby Poyner, but fellow lefty Josh Taylor is with the PawSox and on the 40-man roster. A very long shot would be highly ranked prospect Darwinzon Hernandez who impressed in the spring.

For Johnson, however, this is another bump in the bumpy road that has been his career. The seriousness of the injury will not be determined for a while and the assumption of hope certainly exists that this is just a temporary setback.