Josh Johnson Is Still Dominant, Sometimes
Josh Johnson has, in many ways, been a microcosm for the Blue Jays season. High on talent with disappointing results.
He's been inconsistently good - every time it seems as though his season might be turning a corner, he makes a bad pitch, has a bad inning, takes a step back.
To be fair to Johnson, the Blue Jays are averaging 3.91 runs per start when he's on the mound, which (if qualified) would rank him inside the bottom 15 AL starters. Point being, Johnson has given his team a chance to win more often than not.
Johnson has actually allowed 3 runs or less in seven of his 11 starts and five of his last seven.
But the fact of the matter is he hasn't fully tapped into the dominance he's capable of with any sort of consistency, which is made even more disappointing given the Blue Jays' season thus far.
Tuesday, however, he certainly held up his end of the bargain.
His line: 7IP, 3H, 2R, 2BB, 6K, and 104 pitches (62 strikes). He also generated 10 swings and misses and if you set aside the fourth inning for a moment - he was downright dominant.
Johnson retired the first 10 batters (followed by a walk and two singles) and 11 of his final 12. More importantly, he really showed what makes him dominant-capable. A major factor in explaining Johnson's effectiveness is his mix of secondary pitches. Coupled with a very good fastball, the unpredictability of Johnson's arsenal make him a tough pitcher to hit when he's on.
But enough talking, how about some showing (Pitch-f/x via MLB Gameday).
Jason Kipnis - 89 mph changeup (1-1, two outs in the first)
Johnson rarely throws his changeup. In fact, entering Tuesday's start, he had only thrown it 12 times in his last five outings, according to Brooks Baseball.
Drew Stubbs - 80 mph curveball (1-2, two outs in the third)
Two of Johnson's six strikeouts came via the curve, with three of them by way of his fastball and the other his slider.
Johnson's go-to secondary pitch is his slider, which Brooks Baseball says he's been throwing 23.7% of the time this season. It looked nasty on Tuesday.
Michael Bourn - 89 mph slider (1-1, no outs in the fourth)
Johnson also had Mark Reynolds looking completely lost against the slider. In the GIF below, Johnson freezes Reynolds twice on sliders (first pitch to lead off the third and on an 0-0 count in the fourth) and punches him out in the seventh with an 87-mph slider.
So what does all this mean? Not much, other than when Johnson is on, he's on. And the Blue Jays need him to be on more.
[Screengrab/GIFs via FSN]