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June 18, 2013

What You Need to Know

Yu Better Watch Out

by Daniel Rathman


The Monday Takeaway
The early returns on the Blue Jays’ off-season shopping spree are not quite as rosy as general manager Alex Anthopoulos might have hoped they would be.

Jose Reyes has been on the disabled list with a severe ankle sprain since April 13. R.A. Dickey’s first 15 assignments have been a rollercoaster ride at best and a disaster at worst. Melky Cabrera has essentially been a replacement-level player, logging a .320 on-base percentage that hardly belongs at the top of a contender’s order. And Mark Buehrle has seen his FIP rise for a fourth consecutive year, from 3.87 in 2010 to 4.48 so far in 2013, and only recently began to right the ship after a brutal first month and a half.

But after weeks of bad news, things are suddenly looking up in Toronto. The Blue Jays have won six in a row, the longest active streak in the American League, and with more than 90 games left to play, they’re not dead yet.

Monday’s homecoming against the Rockies, which followed a 5-1 road trip to Chicago and Arlington, gave another scuffling winter addition a chance to show off his vintage form. Josh Johnson had been healthy for only six starts between Opening Day and last night, and in those outings, he had amassed a pedestrian 5.40 ERA. The dominant fastball-slider tandem with which he dominated hitters in his early days with the Marlins made only fleeting appearances. And though a .337 BABIP portended some level of improvement, Johnson’s FIP stood at 4.61, indicating that even better fortunes could not bring him close to his 2009-2010 form.

Facing a Rockies lineup sans Troy Tulowitzki, though, seemingly breathed new life into the 29-year-old’s fragile right arm. Johnson missed 39 days with a triceps ailment between April 21 and June 4, and he was forced to skip his most recent assignment due to a blister. He proved no worse for the wear in the series opener at the Rogers Centre.

Johnson’s fastball, a blistering 96-97 mph heater during his heyday in Miami, sat between 92-93 mph in many of his 2013 starts before last night, only recently ticking back toward its peak velocity. On Monday, Johnson regularly lit up “94” on the gun and came close to 96 when he dug deep into the well, missing 10 Colorado bats with the hard stuff and seven more with his sharp slider.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (06/18)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (06/17)
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Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (06/19)
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Baseball ProGUESTus: T... (06/18)

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