By Jon Weisman
1) True or false: A pitcher’s likelihood for success is entirely determined by how he pitched in his previous four games.
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Jim Johnson hasn’t pitched since suffering through an eight-run seventh inning Sunday at Pittsburgh — the single worst inning of his 505-inning career. He’s due to return in this four-game series against Cincinnati, perhaps as soon as tonight.
When he warms up, or when he enters the game, some will freak out over his unsightly 29.45 ERA through four games as a Dodger — somehow ignoring, for example, his 2.25 ERA in 49 games with Atlanta. (Not that we should be using ERA to evaluate relievers, but that’s the stat that has everyone’s attention.)
From June 9 through July 17, Johnson faced 64 batters, and none scored. Nor did an inherited runner score. (There was only one who could have, but he didn’t!) No one even got an extra-base hit.
Still, that didn’t mean Johnson would never allow any runs again — because this is baseball.
And over the past two weeks, did Johnson ever get reminded “this is baseball.”
So anyway, next time his number is called — next time any struggling player’s number is called — how about we skip the doomsday vision and just see what happens? Not saying you have to like it when things go south. Just suggesting not to assume they will.