Josh Johnson brilliant before exiting with finger injury


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.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.