WASHINGTON – Veteran Braves reliever Jim Johnson’s difficult season has taken another unwanted turn: Achilles tendinitis.
Johnson stayed in Atlanta while the Braves came to Washington for a three-game series that ends Thursday.
“He wasn’t going to pitch before the weekend, so we told him to stay back and work with (a Braves physical therapist),” manager Brian Snitker said before Wednesday night’s game at Nationals Park.
Johnson, 34, has a 5.81 ERA in 56 appearances, which is a full two runs higher than his career ERA and would rank as the second-worst in his 10 full seasons in the majors.
He has blown nine of 31 save opportunities and lost the closer job at the beginning of August.
The big sinkerballer has a 21.00 ERA and .469 opponents’ average in his past eight appearances, allowing 15 hits, 14 runs, three homers and five walks with four strikeouts in six innings in a stretch that began Aug. 13 -- two weeks after he lost the closer job after blowing three of eight saves in July.
Despite an alarming number of blown saves for much of the season, Johnson still posted a solid 3.55 ERA and .208 opponents’ average in 40 appearances from April 28 through Aug. 9, with 44 strikeouts, 15 walks and three homers allowed in 38 innings during that span.
But his slow start and worse finish ruined his overall performance in the first year of a two-year, $10 million contract that runs through 2018. He has a $4.5 million base salary in 2017 and again in 2018.