Brian Johnson
Brian Johnson
28-Year-Old PitcherRP
Boston Red Sox
10-Day IL
Injury Elbow
Est. Return 5/25/2019
2019 Fantasy Outlook
While Johnson was expected to transition to the bullpen in 2018, multiple injuries to Boston's rotation forced the left-hander to spend the majority of the season in a swingman role. Johnson ended up making 38 appearances for the Red Sox, 13 of which were starts, posting a 4.17 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 7.9 K/9 across 99.1 innings. He performed similarly in both jobs (4.15 ERA as a starter, 4.19 mark as a reliever), and figures to reprise his fluid role in 2019 with the Red Sox set to bring back the majority of their starting rotation. It's worth noting that Johnson fared much better against same-handed hitters for a second straight season. He held lefties to a .218/.288/.376 line while righties slashed .279/.344/.466, so he is vulnerable as a starter when the opposing manager stacks the lineup with right-handed hitters. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
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$Signed a contract with the Red Sox in June of 2012 that includes a $1.58 million signing bonus.
Making second rehab appearance
PBoston Red Sox
May 21, 2019
Johnson (elbow) will make his second rehab start Tuesday at Double-A Portland, Alex Speier of The Boston Globe reports.
Johnson began his rehab assignment six days earlier with Triple-A Pawtucket, tossing 1.2 innings and giving up two runs on three hits and a walk. He'll likely work no more than three frames Tuesday while preparing to rejoin the Red Sox in a multi-inning relief role once activated from the 10-day injured list.
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Pitching Stats
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2017
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2017vs Left .205 137 34 10 26 5 1 4
Since 2017vs Right .294 448 81 39 120 26 1 20
2019vs Left .154 13 4 0 2 0 0 1
2019vs Right .571 17 3 3 8 4 0 2
2018vs Left .218 111 27 10 22 5 1 3
2018vs Right .279 323 60 28 82 14 1 13
2017vs Left .154 13 3 0 2 0 0 0
2017vs Right .300 108 18 8 30 8 0 5
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2017
ERA at Home
ERA at Home
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
Since 2017Home 4.06 1.32 82.0 3 2 0 7.9 2.7 1.4
Since 2017Away 5.40 1.74 50.0 4 3 0 7.7 4.3 2.0
2019Home 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2019Away 12.71 2.29 5.2 1 0 0 11.1 4.8 4.8
2018Home 4.45 1.32 62.2 2 2 0 8.3 3.0 1.6
2018Away 3.68 1.61 36.2 2 3 0 7.1 4.2 1.2
2017Home 2.79 1.29 19.1 1 0 0 6.5 1.9 0.9
2017Away 8.22 1.96 7.2 1 0 0 8.2 4.7 3.5
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Stat Review
How does Brian Johnson compare to other relievers?
This section compares his stats with all relief pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 30 innings)*. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.

* Exit Velocity, Barrels/BBE %, Balls Hit 95+ MPH %, and Spin Rate are benchmarked against this season's data (min 20 IP). See here for more exit velocity/barrels stats plus an explanation of current limitations with that data set.
  • K/BB
    Strikeout to walk ratio.
  • K/9
    Average strikeouts per nine innings.
  • BB/9
    Average walks per nine innings.
  • HR/9
    Average home runs allowed per nine innings.
  • Fastball
    Average fastball velocity.
  • ERA
    Earned run average. The average earned runs allowed per nine innings.
  • WHIP
    Walks plus hits per inning pitched.
    Batting average on balls in play. Measures how many balls in play against a pitcher go for hits.
  • GB/FB
    Groundball to flyball ratio. The higher the number, the more likely a pitcher is to induce groundballs.
  • Left On Base
    The percentage of base runners that a pitcher strands on base over the course of a season.
  • Exit Velocity
    The speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact.
  • Barrels/BBE
    The percentage of batted ball events resulting in a Barrel. A Barrel is a batted ball with similar exit velocity and launch angle to past ones that led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.
  • Spin Rate
    Spin Rate is the rate of spin on a baseball after it is released. It is measured in revolutions per minute (rpm).
  • Balls Hit 95+ MPH
    The percentage of batted balls hit that met or exceeded the 95 MPH threshold.
  • Swinging Strike
    The percentage of pitches that result in a swing and a miss.
89.1 mph
Left On Base
Exit Velocity
91.3 mph
Spin Rate
2418 rpm
Balls Hit 95+ MPH
Swinging Strike
Advanced Pitching Stats
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Defensive Stats
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Stats Vs Today's Lineup
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Injuries paved the way for Johnson to make five starts with the Red Sox last season, but he spent most of the season in the rotation at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he carried a 3.09 ERA despite a modest 7.0 K/9. Out of minor league options, the Red Sox revealed in November that they plan on making him a reliever in 2018, where he could be particular effective is a lefty specialist. A first-round pick out of Florida in 2012, the 27-year-old has been very hittable as a starter in his limited chances to fill in as a member of the Boston rotation (career 4.88 ERA, 1.50 WHIP in six starts), thanks to his lack of an out pitch despite his ability to mix four different offerings. Unless he ends up in a situation where he can take the ball every fifth day in a pitcher-friendly environment in 2018, it's difficult to envision a scenario in which Johnson's role as a reliever places him on the fantasy radar.
Johnson's story took a couple of turns in 2016. The left-hander had rocketed through the system, even making a start for Boston in 2015, before an elbow injury ended that season. Seemingly cast as a potential depth starter for 2016, Johnson suffered a toe injury during training camp and was on a pitch count early on for Triple-A Pawtucket. Noted for his pinpoint control, Johnson was wild to start the season, giving up 22 walks in 33 innings before getting placed on the temporary inactive list in May while he sought treatment for anxiety, a condition that had been building since 2015. The organization and his teammates were supportive as Johnson worked through the anxiety issues, and he eventually returned to Pawtucket in late July. He was better following his return, but it was still a lost year for him. He'll return to start for Pawtucket, but the team is placing no expectations on him. After this offseason's upgrades to the rotation, Johnson now looks like simply a depth piece.
Johnson made his major-league debut in 2015, getting a late-July start for Boston and he looked poised to get more starts over the final two months of the season as the Red Sox’s postseason chances headed south, but an elbow injury put a hold on those plans. Hearing the words “elbow injury” was certainly scary for the young left-hander, who didn’t experience structural damage and was able to avoid surgery. He started playing catch in October and is expected to have a normal offseason training regimen. Prior to the second-half drama, Johnson had been Triple-A Pawtucket’s best and most consistent starter. While not overpowering, Johnson has four pitches, he controls all of them, and he has a good feel for pitch-sequencing. Because he was shut down, Johnson is behind fellow young lefties Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens, who each got multiple starts in the majors. Those two will be candidates for Boston’s starting rotation coming out of spring training while Johnson is likely to start the year back at Pawtucket.
No Red Sox prospect increased his value more in 2014 than Johnson. The left-handed starter has become one of the top-ranked prospects in the Red Sox's minor-league system. He used his four-pitch arsenal with great effectiveness early on at High-A Salem and later at Double-A Portland. He was so good, equally effective against righties and lefties, the Red Sox promoted him late in the season to Triple-A Pawtucket, for whom he started in the Triple-A playoffs. His fastball is a pedestrian 88-92 mph, so his ceiling is limited to that of a mid-rotation starter, but he's in control of his offerings and mixes his pitches well. Johnson will open the season with Triple-A Pawtucket and it wouldn't be surprising to see him get a look in Boston later in the season.
Johnson, 23, didn't benefit from a normal offseason training program because he was recovering from multiple orbital fractures that ended his 2012 season prematurely. As such, he struggled early on in 2013, allowing 17 earned runs on 36 hits and 17 walks in 38.2 innings before shoulder tendinitis sent him to the disabled list. Upon his return, Johnson was a different pitcher. He permitted five runs over 31 innings, surrendering 14 hits while striking out 30, and earned a promotion to High-A Salem. Johnson has a four-pitch mix and knows how to pitch. He should advance pretty quickly to the upper levels.
Johnson, a first-round draft pick in 2012, is a well-filled out left-hander who possesses an advanced feel for pitching. His 2012 season was cut short when he suffered some facial fractures after being struck by a batted ball. He has a low-90s heater that can tick up to 95 mph when needed. Johnson mixes in a curve and change-up. Command isn't at a high level just yet. He'll need to work on honing his arsenal and developing a level of consistency with each. As he moves along in the coming years, staying in shape will be key. His body type can blow up if he's not attentive to his fitness. He'll be building his innings up at Low-A Greenville, working on all of his pitches and locating down in the zone. Johnson can have success at the lower levels; whether he maintains a path as a starter is something we'll find out when he reaches the higher levels.
More Fantasy News
Kicking off rehab stint
PBoston Red Sox
May 15, 2019
Johnson (elbow) will begin a minor-league rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday, Chris Cotillo of reports.
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Throwing again Saturday
PBoston Red Sox
May 10, 2019
Johnson (elbow) is scheduled to throw at Fenway Park on Saturday, aAlex Speier of The Boston Globe reports.
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Reports no soreness
PBoston Red Sox
May 9, 2019
Johnson (elbow) said he experienced no soreness the day after throwing one inning in a simulated game Tuesday, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports.
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Another sim game coming
PBoston Red Sox
May 7, 2019
Johnson (elbow) threw a simulated game Tuesday and is expected to throw another before beginning a rehab assignment, Alex Speier of The Boston Globe reports.
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Set for simulated game
PBoston Red Sox
May 4, 2019
Johnson (elbow) is scheduled to throw a simulated game Tuesday, Christopher Smith of reports.
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