Pierce Johnson, RHP
After the departure of Trevor Cahill and Travis Wood last offseason, the Cubs are left with one true long-man in the bullpen. A long-man is a pitcher who can come in and provide multiple innings out of the bullpen if the starter failed to make it far enough. For the Cubs, that man is Mike Montgomery.
While it’s nice to have a long-man you can trust out of the bullpen, it’s even better if a manager has two at his disposal. Pierce Johnson could step into a second long-man role in the Cubs bullpen this season.
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Johnson had success as a starter in 2015 while a member of the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate. In 16 starts, the right-hander recorded a 2.08 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 95 innings pitched.
In 2016, Johnson split 22 appearances between the bullpen and the starting rotation. He did not fare well as he recorded an ERA north of 6.00 in 63 innings pitched.
However, the right-hander has made five appearances, all out of the bullpen, in 2017. He is doing well as he has a 3.18 ERA with 10 strikeouts in 5 2/3innings pitched.
Calling up young prospect arms usually requires a stint in the bullpen before the pitcher is ready for a big league starting rotation. In this case, that would be perfect for the Cubs as they need another trusted long-man in the bullpen.
If Johnson can get some innings in the bullpen under his belt in 2017, he may be moved to the starting rotation once spots start to open up as early as this offseason.