Josh Johnson Player Projection No. 87

Key Stats: There is no disputing that Josh Johnson is a star when healthy. A career 2.98 ERA (3.15 FIP!) and 8.28 K/9 with a 48-23 record turn heads. But health has been the problem. Four starts in 2007 then in 2008 he didn’t pitch until July, healthy 2009 and 2010 led to 2011, where he made 9 starts then missed the rest of the season. The good news? He didn’t need shoulder surgery. The bad news? We don’t know if the problem is behind him.

Skeptics Say: Johnson is the epitome of high risk/high reward going forward. Before he was hurt last year he made it through 9 starts posting a 3-1 record with 1.64 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. He clearly has the goods but can we count on him to hold up over the season to make good on his talents? The only knock we can make on him is health. The reports this off season are promising and they all point to Josh being ready to go in the spring with the team not planing any restrictions for him.

Peer Comparison: Josh Johnson has a 94mph avg fastball, an effective slider, change up and last year he made more use of a curve. Both Justin Verlander and Matt Garza have the same pitches with the same general velocity. Given the strike out percentages of all three, Verlander is a closer match to Johnson than Garza is, so lets throw him out. We are left with Johnson, who in his career has an ERA under 3.00 and a strikeout percentage of 22.3% and a guy who just won the AL Cy Young and MVP awards who also has a career 22.3% strikeout rate. Verlander was the 9th pitcher off the boards in ADP at Mockdraft Central last year. This year we are being given a (reporrtedly) healthy Josh Johnson, with similar career numbers to Verlander, who this year is going much lower in drafts up to this point.

Team Outlook: These aren’t your older brother’s Marlins… or are they? We’ve seen the team go on a spending spree before and they have the hardware to back it up. With a new stadium, new marquee free agents and a new manager, the Marlins are poised to compete this year, provided their rotation (Josh Johnson) stays healthy.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline – #16 Starting Pitcher; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com – #45 in the Top 70 Starting Pitchers & #173 in the Top 250 Players; RotoChamp – #63 in the Top 300 Players; Mockdraft Central ADP – #27 Starting Pitcher and #95 Overall

Projection: I would be the happiest owner in the draft room if I could land Josh Johnson as the 27th starting pitcher off the board. While I don’t know if he is going to make it through a whole season, if he does his floor is All Star. My “whole season” projection:

15 Wins, 3.15 ERA, 151 K, 1.10 WHIP in 160 Innings.