Red Sox: Reasonable expectations for Brian Johnson


With Red Sox ace Clay Buchholz dealing with a flexor strain, the Red Sox have placed the oft-injured righty on the 15-day disabled list, promoting promising pitching prospect (you like that alliteration?) Brian Johnson to Boston.

Now, the Boston media has a tendency to over-hype Red Sox prospects to the point where anything other than super-stardom is a disappointment to fans. There are some who may suggest that Johnson is just the pitcher that the Red Sox need and that he could be the team’s savior.

More from Red Sox News

Mark my words; Johnson isn’t going to be the savior of this Red Sox team. But that’s not to say he can’t be a legitimate contributor. This promotion to Boston is long overdue as Johnson continually has proven that he has nothing left to learn in Triple-A, posting a 2.73 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 a season after leading the Eastern League in ERA by sporting a stingy 1.75 mark with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.

Johnson’s minor league success is probably not indicative of his future MLB performance, though. Taken as an advanced arm out of Florida in the 2012 draft, Johnson has thrived in the minors due to his polish and poise on the mound. However, even though Johnson is a polished pitcher who has shown great command throughout his professional career, he doesn’t have the stuff to be a frontline starter at the major league level.

Few, if any, publications have credited Johnson with anything more than the ceiling of a fourth or fifth starter. Once again, that doesn’t mean he won’t be a useful arm. Just be sure not to let the Boston media hype machine get to you and don’t be disappointed when Johnson turns into Mark Buehrle rather than David Price.

Still, he’s clearly major league ready and it’s past time that the Red Sox called him up. Expect him to be a viable back-end starter– Wade Miley is a decent comparison– and give the Red Sox a solid chance to win, but not to dominate in the same mold as Eduardo Rodriguez has thus far. As far as statistics go, an ERA around 4.00 would be a solid contribution from the 24-year old Johnson and anything better than that would be a coup.

Once Buchholz returns from the DL, the Red Sox should have a decent front four in their rotation between Buchholz, Rodriguez, Johnson, and Miley (plus maybe another if the Red Sox swing a trade). That’s a group that the team should be able to win behind, though they certainly won’t light the world on fire. Johnson is an important piece of Boston’s rotation, both now and in the future, but he likely will never be more than a back-end starter and it would be foolish to expect more than that in his first taste of the majors.