The former second-round draft pick tore up both Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, going 12-3 with a 1.96 ERA in 24 combined starts. He earned his September callup to the White Sox.
Unfortunately, it hasn't gone well for him in his first two major league starts. Johnson has given up 11 runs and 14 hits in 9.2 innings. He has suffered losses to both the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers.
But, it's really hard to determine how much of that mess is Johnson's fault. Only five of the 11 runs he's given up have been earned. The White Sox committed four errors, including three by third baseman Conor Gillaspie (pictured), during Johnson's 9-1 loss to Detroit on Tuesday night.
Rookie pitchers are always nervous their first few starts in the majors. It's human nature. But young pitchers tend to settle down much quicker if all the plays are being made behind them. Johnson hasn't had that luxury. Instead, he's had to make a lot of extra pitches and been placed in some jams that were not of his own making. He's been asked to get a number of extra outs, and he hasn't been able to do that. I've seen much more veteran pitchers than Johnson crumble under similar circumstances.
It's unfortunate, because you'd like to get a good evaulation of Johnson coming down the stretch of this season. He's dominated hitters at the minor-league level, and it's time to find out whether he can challenge for a job in the 2014 starting rotation. Two starts in, I have no read on that whatsoever. Johnson's numbers are ugly, but it's hard to cast stones at a rookie who has received no help at all from his teammates.
Speaking of bad defense
Gillaspie on Tuesday became the first Sox player to commit three errors in one game since Andy Gonzalez on Aug. 30, 2007. That's not company you want to keep.
It has been a brutal September for the Sox thus far. They are 2-8 this month and have committed 17 errors in those 10 games.
The Sox now have a major-league high 108 errors for the season, leading to 70 unearned runs. Last year, the Sox committed a league-low 70 errors. The defensive regression in one year is really hard to explain, but poor defense does explain a 58-86 record; that much I know.