Marlins ace Josh Johnson goes on DL with shoulder inflammation

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Josh Johnson, the NL’s co-leader in ERA through nine starts, was placed on the disabled list Saturday because of right shoulder inflammation.

It looks like a recurrence of the problem that shut him down at the end of last season. Johnson hadn’t been on the disabled list since 2008, but he didn’t pitch after Sept. 4 last year because of an inflamed shoulder and a sore back.

Johnson, probably the game’s most underrated pitcher, led the NL with a 2.30 ERA last season and was tied with Jaime Garcia with a 1.64 mark this season. He was also second with a 0.98 WHIP.

With Johnson sidelined, it doesn’t look like Javier Vazquez will lose his spot in Florida’s rotation anytime soon.

Converted reliever Jay Buente is coming up to pitch in Johnson’s place Sunday. Buente, a 27-year-old who had never started regularly prior to this season, was 3-0 with a 1.91 ERA in five starts since moving into the rotation at Triple-A New Orleans. He made his major league debut for the Marlins last season, amassing a 6.55 ERA in eight relief appearances.

Mets to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen

Matt Harvey
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Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.

It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.

At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”

Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.