Josh Johnson quietly moves past Ubaldo Jimenez as the first half's top pitcher

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Ubaldo Jimenez dominated the early season headlines, and rightfully so, but three straight poor starts have bumped his ERA from 1.15 to 2.27 and now Josh Johnson is the only starter in baseball with a sub-2.00 mark.
Johnson still can’t compete with Jimenez’s attention-grabbing win total, but after shutting out the Dodgers for eight innings yesterday he’s now 9-3 with a 1.70 ERA, .203 opponents’ batting average, and 123/28 K/BB ratio in 122 innings.
He’s reeled off 16 straight Quality Starts and has allowed just seven earned runs in his last 79 innings for a 0.80 ERA. And last night Johnson improved to 33-0 in his career when the Marlins’ lineup provides him with at least four runs of support.
My guess is that Jimenez will get the starting nod for the National League in the All-Star game because of his MLB-leading 14 wins and incredible amount of early attention, but Johnson has been the best pitcher in baseball this season and may be the most underrated ace in the game. Since returning from Tommy John elbow surgery in mid-2008 he’s 31-9 with a 2.86 ERA in 418.1 innings.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.