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J.J. not missing many bats, should Marlins be worried?

     The offensively challenged Phillies and their depleted lineup (no Ryan Howard and no Chase Utley) brought a Ray Oyler-like .198 team average into Wednesday's matchup against Josh Johnson. No contest, right? Wrong. Johnson coughed up six runs on 11 hits and was knocked out in the fourth. Johnson

      That's two outings now for Johnson in which he's allowed double-digit hits -- 21 in all. Keep in mind that Johnson, until now, had never allowed more than 17 hits in any two consecutive starts. Or ponder this: Johnson gave up the miniscule total of 18 hits -- yes, 18 -- in a dazzling stretch of six starts that comprised the entire month of April last season.

      Johnson hasn't been pounded. Shredded is more like it. Of the 21 hits, 19 were singles and he hasn't allowed a home run. On the other hand, he's fanned only five batters (only one last night) in 9 2/3 innings, which is well below his normal strikeout clip.

       Yes, it's early. Extemely early. We all saw how Javier Vazquez went from an early season train wreck to one of the league's very best starters last season. Pitchers -- great pitchers -- do it all the time.

        But Johnson is coming off a season that was cut short in mid-May by a shoulder injury. He's pitching under a miscroscope, with all eyes trained on him to see how he'll bounce back. So far, two games in, the results haven't been pretty.

        Is it cause for concern?

Comments

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Nacional

We should be very concerned.

Brian

I think there is a significant chance he is injured, but the STL game they were just getting lucky and hits were dropping in between the OF and IF. Yesterday was a case of a bad call (Pierre was out at 2nd), our shoddy defensive Outfielders (Lomo tripping, Stantons awkward dive), and bad management (at least on ESPN it seemed during the 10 batter inning St. Claire [whom I despise] and Cora never visited the mound once to slow him down). One inning truly did him in, and it was an implosion from 5 people on the field... but most of those hits weren't hit hard...

Truthteller

What's this clown's nickname again? L Cool JJ? Yeah. If the "L" stands for "Loss", perhaps. His second-half slide is beginning in April this year, to make up for the second-half slide he missed last year by being injured.

Basically, he's done, and the Art Dealer and the Latent Midget and the Manifestly Incompetent General Mangler spent a lot of guaranteed money on him. Glue factor. For all of them.

Flav C

Yes, Johnson is coming off a 11 months of major league inactivity. One could argue that so is Johan Santana, who is coming off 19 months of inactivity. In 2012, 2 starts. 10 innings. 13 Strikeouts. 0.90 ERA. And .194 opposing team bat avg. Not bad.
Maybe JJ has changed his delivery stance and motion to not aggravate his back problem and is still getting used to it. Then again, maybe not. Let's wait till May, when usually things seem to escalate for the Marlins.

Orlando

To be concerned is unfair. JJ hadn't pitched for something like 6 months until spring training. During one of his interviews, he confessed he was just getting comfortable with his delivery. There's no way he should be expected to be performing as he did last season. I think he just needs time. Perhaps in the next month or so he should be returning to old form.

Anton Sirius

I think the clown's nickname is "Truthteller".

laurelbowie

Is there anyone new enough to this blog that they don't know who this Truth feller is and where he resides?

Stan M

My personal opinion is that something is definitely wrong with JJ. He said he was throwing crooked pitches but at least from a TV angle, it didn't appear so to me, and that's in both of his starts. It seemed that 95 percent of his pitches were either fastballs or changeups. Furthermore, his velocity seemed to be down about 2 mph on average. If we hear that they will skip him for a turn, then we can be sure that something's wrong.
For any of you who don't understand what laurel bowie is hinting at, he is referring to a certain person from SC who used to constantly ranted in mostly negative posts. We shoulld ignore this semi-rational whoever he is, for he seems to post for attention rather than exposition.

flagstafffishfan

Gotta agree with you Stan that he's falling in love with the change and his fastball velocity is down. Any thoughts of maybe sending him down to get things figured out and gain some confidence. Maybe bring up LeBlanc for a start?

Mike

Truthteller, you know zero about sports. You post on all sport blog and sound the same on all. You must be the most miserable person in this world if all you can do is complain about SoFla sports teams. If you don't like it here get out, go away, see you, true to learn more about sports, you really need to.

Mike

He will not be sent down. No team would send their ace down for any reason, specially a well paid ace. Would a the 4th or 5th man in the rotation go down, maybe, but not the number one guy. Like it or not that's the way it is.

laurelbowie

I agree with Stan M and others who say it's obvious that Johnson is hurt, and probably seriously hurt. Unfortunately, it won't be long before we're informed that JJ has been pitching with a bad this or a torn that and that he has to be shut down for "two or three weeks." And there goes his season, once again. A guy who normally throws 96-97 with ease doesn't suddenly struggle to reach 93 unless something is very wrong. Yes, he got a couple of lousy breaks, but he didn't look anywhere healthy, even in the innings where things went well for him.

laurelbowie

Make that anywhere near healthy.

Flav C

Stan/flagg: JJ's total of FB pitches increased from 65% to 80%, compared to other seasons. His slider (which was his best well kept secret) dropped from 25% to 12%. When he was ahead on the count in previous years, he used to use his slider more than 30% of the time, and FB 55%, with some change up. These last 2 days, he's been using FB almost 80% of the time when he's ahead on the count. And when he's behind, forget about it; 100% of FB when he is 3-0, 3-1. It makes much easier and predictable for a hitter. Much more when the pitcher is not used to change the velocity that much.

Flav C

What I meant to say with all this statistical mumbo-jumbo is that it seems that JJ is not confident at all in his stuff, specially his secondary pitches. Not sure if it is it a health concern, or an adjustment to new delivery/posture issue. But these first 2 games he's been much far from where he should be. Just look at Johan and Tommy Hanson. Both came back from long inactivity due to injury issues and both pitched very well.

Flav C

On a side note, Hand and Zanabia are doing pretty well with the Zephyrs. Both won their 2 respective games. Zanabia has a 0.64 ERA and Hand...0.00. The bats are cold though. Solano, Matt Dominguez, and Mattinson all below .200 in the first 7 games with the Zephyrs. Petersen showing some signs he can produce runs and be on base.

spitballer

JJ may have been overated from the start. He's really only had one good full season. If he has two more bad outings in a row...that should tell us.

Glags

No need to complicate things. He's a power pitcher with a 95+ fastball which makes the change up and slider all that much more effective. You take away that fastball and he's just another pitcher. The thing with Javi wasn't pitch speed it was control. Once he regained that he was effective.

Alex

Like I said earlier, JJ has lost a good 3-4 mph off his fastball. At this point no one can say if the loss in velocity is permanent or not, but he definitely has not been the dominating pitcher with the rising 96-97 mph fastball this year. He has been more in the 92-94 mph range and that is a huge difference. The question is whether this is the result of the injury he had last year and which he only treated with rest, or maybe he just needs to rebuild strength in his shoulder after a long period of inactivity.

Bottom line is that I was 100% right when I said the Marlins are making two big mistakes: they are building the pitching staff around JJ as The Ace and the offense is built around Hanley Ramirez, coming off two lousy years in a row. And so far it looks like I was write as neither JJ nor Hanley is performing well right now. Unless this changes, OTHER PLAYERS need to step up or this season could be a long and disappointing one.

Alex

I have no idea who the hell you are "Truth Teller", but although I like your nicknames for Loria & Samson (my own favorites are "The Triple Chinned Fat Man" and The Poison Dwarf), the rest of your post just seems like typical HATER garbage. I like this team, The Marlins. Even if I don't have much use for the owner...I still like the TEAM.

Alex

LOL...I mean to say "it looks like I was RIGHT"...not WRITE....lol...

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