Josh Johnson brilliant before exiting with finger injury

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Josh Johnson appeared well on his way to turning in his best start of the season Monday, pitching six innings of one-hit ball against the Braves before leaving with skin irritation on his right middle finger.

The Marlins went on to win 2-1.

It sounds like Johnson got out early enough before a nasty blister could form, so he’s expected to make his next start. The right-hander doesn’t have a history of blister problems.

Since he’s making $13.5 million next year, Johnson is an obvious candidate to be sent packing by the Marlins in the wake of Monday’s Anibal Sanchez deal. The 28-year-old had been struggling of late, allowing 14 runs over 16 1/3 innings in his previous three starts. That stretch took his ERA from 3.80 to 4.35. However, he was on his game tonight. He struck out nine and walked none before departing. At 87 pitches, he probably would have thrown one more inning if not for the blister.

“Josh Johnson was about as unhittable as I’ve ever seen,” Chipper Jones said afterwards. “He was dominate J.J. tonight”

The Red Sox and Angels are among the teams believed to be interested in Johnson.

Hideki Matsui thinks Shohei Otani should pitch and hit in MLB

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Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.

Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”

Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.

The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.