Jim Johnson has largely been feast or famine throughout his 10-year career. He has had seasons where he finishes with an ERA above 7.00 and others in which he saved over 50 games.
Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Johnson thus far has primarily been the reliever who struggles. In just 5.1 innings, the former All-Star has allowed 12 earned runs since joining the Los Angeles. However, he has put together consecutive strong outings, with both coming in the seventh inning.
Johnson entered Friday’s game with one out and the Dodgers leading 5-3, and he retired the two batters faced. “I’ve just been putting in the work and just trying to wait my turn to get back out there,” he said. “Just stay positive and keep the ball down.”
Johnson’s tenure with the Dodgers got off to a rocky start as he allowed at least one run in each of his first three trips out of the bullpen. He seemingly hit rock bottom in Pittsburgh when he was charged with eight runs in just two-thirds of an inning.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly hasn’t shied away from using the right-hander since that disastrous outing and it’s something Johnson was sure to mention. “Donnie [Mattingly] has been very good with dialogue between the two of us,” he said of the manager.
“For us to get where we need to go at the end of the year, I need to be a part of it. It’s just a matter of getting rolling a little bit.” Echoing similar comments Mat Latos made on Thursday, Johnson also discussed needing to grow more comfortable with his new teammates, which is something he said is improving daily.
One key to the 32 year old’s success is keeping the ball on the ground. This season, 61.7 percent of balls put in play against Johnson have been on the ground. He allowed just two home runs in 59 appearances with the Atlanta Braves, but quickly matched that total through his first two games with the Dodgers.