In case you haven’t heard, Brian Johnson is coming up to make Tuesday’s start in Toronto as Eduardo Rodriguez leaves to spend a few days with his newborn child. Although it seems like Johnson has been around forever, he’s only made one major-league start and that came back in 2015. As such, it might be necessary to run through exactly who he is as a pitcher. Here is a very brief outline of what to expect from Johnson.
When he is at his best, the southpaw relies on a command/control profile that lacks a true putaway pitch. He’s a polished pitcher with a solid delivery, and while he doesn’t have the elite offering he has a few solid ones. The fastball isn’t one that is going to light up radar guns, as it generally sits in the high-80’s and sometimes low-90’s. There have been reports of it reaching 95 mph at times, but that was a couple years ago and I don’t think he’s gotten back to that point.
To go along with the heater, Johnson also throws a curveball that is probably his best pitch when he is at his best. It has more of a slurvy path than a true 12-6 curve, but he will use it against hitters of either handedness and has shown an ability to locate it on a consistent basis. If we see the best version of Brian Johnson today, his curveball will be a big reason why.
He also throws a slider (or cutter; I’ve seen it called both.) to give him a second breaking ball, and while he doesn’t throw it a ton it’s a nice change of pace. Finally, there is a changeup that is always the key to a starter’s success. Generally speaking, he has his fastball and curveball working most nights that he’s pitching moderately well. The changeup is a key third pitch that needs to be consistent against both righties and lefties.
At the end of the day it’s probably not fair to expect a big outing from Johnson even against a struggling Blue Jays lineup. With that being said, he has the repertoire and pitchability to get them five solid innings and give them a chance to win. That’s all we can ask of him, after all.