Josh Johnson has already missed more than two months with shoulder inflammation and Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that he’s no sure thing to pitch again before 2012.
According to Frisaro the Marlins are hoping that Johnson can begin a throwing program later this week and if that happens he’ll be on track to return at some point in September, even if it means just a couple relief appearances “to give him some peace of mind going into the offseason.”
However, he hasn’t thrown at all since June and if the Marlins ultimately decide Johnson’s recovery hasn’t progressed enough to resume throwing then the 27-year-old right-hander will probably be shut down for the remainder of the season.
In other words, there’s a pretty good chance one of the best pitchers in baseball will end up missing five months with shoulder inflammation that the Marlins initially expected him to return from in mere weeks. Johnson has a history of arm problems and I’m all for playing it safe with young pitchers, but it sure seems like there’s something going on here beyond what’s publicly known.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.