SUN LIFE STADIUM -- The season may only be a few weeks old, but Marlins ace Josh Johnson is already back on top of the statistical leader board. But to be honest, that's nothing new.
The two hits Johnson allowed over seven scoreless innings Tuesday night against the Pirates not only lowered his ERA to an NL-leading 1.00, but it also dropped his WHIP to a league-leading 0.59 (St. Louis' Kyle Lohse is second with a 0.85). JJ's three wins are tied for most in the NL and his 27 Ks rank fourth overall (only Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw and Jonathan Sanchez have more).
"If you want to start a franchise and pick a pitcher, you're not going to go wrong picking him," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after Tuesday's loss to the Marlins. "He shut us down tonight. You're going to have those games in the big leagues. At the Major League level, there are a handful of pitchers that they stop you. You've got to catch them maybe when they're a little bit off or you get some opportunities to get some men on base, and we didn't have either one of those. He was not off and we didn't have anyone on base. They faced one man over the minimum as a team for the night."
Of course, hot starts are nothing new for JJ. In each of the past two seasons, he's started 8-2 with a 1.80 ERA over his first 15 starts in 2010 and 7-1 with a 2.66 ERA over his first 15 starts in 2009.
His best four game start prior to this season was in 2009 when he went 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA and 29 strikeouts.
While his new added pitch -- a slow curveball -- has drawn a lot of attention, the Pirates were mesmerized by JJ's fastball.
"His fastball is definitely his pitch," said Garrett Jones, one of two Pirates to get a hit off Johnson Tuesday. "Sometimes it cuts, it comes in on lefties and it goes away from righties, and he can two-seam it a little bit too. With being how big he is on the mound too, it gets on you quick. It's got a lot of life, a heavy fastball we call it. He's real effective throwing a lot of fastballs, mixing in an off-speed here and there, but his main pitch is hitting his spot with his fastball."
> Left fielder Logan Morrison, who strained the arch in his left foot during his first at-bat Tuesday and left the game after the fourth inning, is not in Wednesday's lineup for the Marlins. Morrison was wearing a protective boot on his left foot after the game. Emilio Bonifacio will start in left in his place.
Morrison came in with a .327 batting average, second highest among Marlins regulars. He went 1-for-3 Tuesday night to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.
> Marlins lineup for Wednesday: 1. Chris Coghlan CF, 2. Omar Infante 2B, 3. Hanley Ramirez SS, 4. Gaby Sachez 1B, 5. Greg Dobbs 3B, 6. Mike Stanton RF, 7. John Buck C, 8. Emilio Bonifacio LF, 9. Ricky Nolasco P.