The date was July 29, 2006.
No, that was not the first day I dreamed of one day becoming a blogger. It was the date of Jim Johnson’s one and still only Major League appearance as a starting pitcher.
He lasted just three innings and gave up nine hits and eight runs in his big league debut.
So in parts of five Major League seasons, just one of Johnson’s 146 appearances came as a starter after he made 121 minor league starts.
Late last season there was some speculation that Johnson wanted a chance to start again and that the O’s were at least considering it.
Here are some reasons for JJ as starter:
*He has the pitches to do it.
*He was never given the chance before.
*His arm might hold up better with a regular pitching routine.
*You can never have enough (starting) pitching.
Some reasons against JJ as starter:
*He has thrived in a bullpen role, why mess with that now.
*His arm might not hold up pitching a lot of innings
*The O’s have enough young starting pitching candidates.
*He is too important in his current eighth-inning role.
MASN analyst Dave Johnson, who knows more about pitching and pitchers than just about anyone I know, feels JJ could handle a return to the rotation.
“He has the possibility of having four better than average Major League pitches. He throws that two-seam fastball from 93 to 97 with sink. While he might lose a bit on the fastball as a starter, he could also gain command on his pitches by throwing more,” Dave Johnson said.
Johnson feels that Jim Johnson’s fastball and change-up are already above average pitches and his curve can be at times.
“Plus you have a chance for better command throwing 100 pitches every fifth day then 10 or 12 pitches two or three times a week.”
While it may seem that pitching a lot of innings, like a starter does, would put a bigger strain on Johnson’s arm than a bullpen role does, Dave said that is not true.
“It’s physically more demanding to be a bullpen guy. As a starter you pitch once every five days and you get your rest and into a routine. It’s easier to stay ready to pitch. A bullpen guy is on in relief one day and maybe up and down in the pen over the next day or two.”
Another reason why Johnson could be considered for the rotation is that David Hernandez could inherit his 8th-inning role in the pen. Hernandez thrived in late relief late last season.
Dave Johnson sums it by saying Jim Johnson could help the O’s more and quite possibly be more important to the team as a starting pitcher.
“Starting pitching is such a premium. What is more valuable, a good starting pitcher or a good eighth-inning guy? Who is more valuable to the team?”
Jim Johnson as a starter again? It’s something worth thinking about.