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.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.