With Injuries to Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez, left-hander Brian Johnson will start the season in the rotation. He was expected to start the season in the bullpen since he is out of options. It has been a long and difficult road for Johnson. The Red Sox drafted him in the first round of the 2012 MLB draft 31st overall. Johnson was once considered a top prospect. He seemed poised for big things after going 10-2 in his second season in the minors. Since then, he has not had any easy road to the big leagues. Now he has his chance to show baseball why the Red Sox have stuck with him.
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Brian Johnson’s Journey
When the Sox drafted Johnson they had high expectations. Since then Johnson has had an eventful career. In his fourth minor league start, the former first round pick took a line drive off the face causing multiple fractures. Three years later Johnson made his MLB debut against the Houston Astros, only to leave that start because of numbness in his hand. This injury prevented him from making his case to be in the Red Sox 2016 rotation. Then baseball became secondary, as while at home he was the victim of a car jacking in which a gun was shot at his feet. With Johnson’s place in the organization up in the air he developed an anxiety disorder. This caused him to step away from baseball for six weeks and seek treatment.
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Brian Johnson Bounces Back
The former first round pick returned to the Sox after almost retiring. Last year he was impressive in his limited opportunities. 2017 was not easy for Johnson, as in the minors he was again hit by a line drive in the head. But he didn’t miss a start. He appeared in five games, including two starts. In his Fenway Park debut he pitched a complete game shutout. The only other Red Sox pitcher to do that is a guy by the name of Pedro Martinez. Johnson doesn’t overpower hitters as his fastball tops out at 90 MPH. During Spring Training he has shown the Red Sox he could work the strike soon and had a 2.35 ERA the lowest on the team.
What to Expect
Johnson is not expected to stay in the rotation all season. He will return to the bullpen once Pomeranz or Rodriguez are healthy. The Sox expect him to be a big part of the bullpen and make occasional spot starts. If the Sox had elected not to add Johnson to the Opening Day roster, they could have lost him to another team. Johnson has earned his spot with his performance. Johnson’s path to the big leagues is truly remarkable. He doesn’t take anything for granted, and will be motivated next year as he looks to add another chapter to a career that seemed like it could be over.