Our countdown is near its end. Today, Michael Dixon also focused his attention on 2 Hitters with New Teams Ready to Thrive in 2014. Here, he does the same with the arms, looking at 2 Pitchers With New Teams Ready to Thrive in 2014.
A good year one year doesn’t guarantee a bad one in the next. Conversely, even if a guy appears to be over the hill, one bad year doesn’t necessarily mean he’s completely done.
Neither of these guys had particularly good years in 2013, but I would be happy to have either on board in 2014.
- Josh Johnson — 2013 Team: Toronto Blue Jays. 2014 Team: San Diego Padres
There’s plenty to like about Josh Johnson as the 2014 season nears.
1. He’s healthy: Yes, this can change with Johnson in a moment and judging by his history, you probably do need to budget some time for injuries. But you can’t really judge Johnson based on 2013 because he was never healthy.
2. He’s back in the NL: I guess it’s impossible to get a true gauge on how much familiarity with surroundings really matters, but this certainly won’t hurt. Johnson’s best years were with the Marlins, facing eight hitters and a pitcher. He only got one injury-plagued season in the AL so we didn’t get the best read on how he’s play there, but being in the NL never hurts.
3. He’s in the NL West: A division known for pitching far more than hitting. Yes, there are tough assignments, especially against the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks in their parks, but San Diego, San Francisco, and even Los Angeles against a potent Dodgers’ offense are all nice places to pitch. Certainly much better than the parade of hitter’s parks and potent offenses that occupy the AL East.
4. He’s in San Diego: Even with the fences in a little bit, this one of the better places to pitch in all of baseball. The marine layer keeps the weather from getting excessively hot more than a few days out of the year and with fences that are still relatively deep, this isn’t going to change. A move to San Diego will never be a bad thing.
5. He’s only 30: Johnson debuted at 21 so it feels like he’s about 35, but that’s not the case. It’s hard to tell how the injuries have aged Johnson, but he should still have a few good years left.
6. He can still miss bats: He was hurt in 2013 and only managed 81.1 innings, but still struck out better than a hitter an inning. Combine that with pretty good accuracy for a high K guy, and Johnson still has all of the tools to be a great fantasy pitcher.
7. He’s still in a contract year: Johnson only signed a one-year deal with the Padres, so there’s still plenty of motivation for him to work hard, get back into shape, and have a great year on the field.
So, while Johnson has his concerns, there are a lot of positives working in his favor. He’s also likely to come as a nice bargain on draft day.
- Dan Haren — 2013 Team: Washington Nationals. 2014 Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Doing some piggybacking off of what we just talked about with Josh Johnson, important is it for a guy to be in a comfortable situation? Well, why don’t we just see what Dan Haren told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post about his early season struggles with the Nats.
It was really, really difficult…Most guys have their families where they are, so I’m not going to bug them. The majority of my time was spent alone. Those times where I was struggling on the mound, it was really compounded by just kind of being alone. My life revolved too much around baseball. It didn’t affect how I was pitching. But it made in between pitching and after the games more difficult.
That makes even more sense when you look at his first and second half splits with the Nats.
Dan Haren: 2013
|First Half||93||17 (1.6)||81 (7.8)||115 (11.1)||4-10||5.61||1.419|
|Second Half||76.2||14 (1.6)||70 (8.2)||64 (7.5)||6-4||3.52||1.017|
As he got a little more acclimated to his surroundings, he pitched better.
Now, Haren is back in his native Southern California and pitching in the NL West. His best years have come with the Oakland Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Los Angeles Angels, pitching either in California or in the NL West. Now, he’s doing both.
Also, like Johnson, Haren is still in a contract year, and there’s plenty of incentive for him to work hard to pitch well. Dan Haren will bring the strikeouts and great control, so you can count on the K’s, a decent WHIP (at worst), and probably a good ERA at Dodger Stadium against primarily NL West opponents.
It’s not a coincidence that both of these guys come from the NL West. Neither did what we’d become accustomed to in 2013, but both Josh Johnson and Dan Haren are in great positions to succeed in 2014.