Jim Johnson was added by Atlanta last year in what appeared to be a placeholder deal where they could build up his trade value to move him to a contender for a prospect or two in July. Instead, Atlanta was so impressed with Johnson's efforts that they kept him all season and gave him a two-year deal this offseason. His 20 saves were a far cry from the back-to-back 50-save seasons he had for Baltimore a few seasons back, but he was a better pitcher in 2016 than he was then. Johnson added strikeouts to his game (career-high 25.6 percent strikeout rate) and did not sacrifice his ability to generate groundballs. After outperforming his peripherals in Baltimore, the opposite was finally the case for Johnson, as his career-low 2.71 FIP was superior to his 3.06 ERA. The closer job should be his, but his new deal is still friendly enough that he could be dealt to a contender if he can maintain this newfound ability to miss bats at an above average clip.
Johnson struck out a pair in a perfect inning of work to record his third save of the season in Saturday's 4-2 win over the Padres. Johnson wasted no time as he was called upon to close out a two-run game, retiring the side in order on just 12 pitches, eight of which went for strikes. The veteran blew his first opportunity of the season, but he has converted each of his last three chances, allowing just one baserunner while striking out four.
Johnson gave up a hit and struck out one in a scoreless ninth inning to notch the save in a 5-2 win over the Padres on Friday. The veteran closer is off to a solid start to 2017, picking up a win and two saves with a 1.80 ERA and a 5:2 K:BB in his first four appearances. Johnson should have plenty of job security as long as he remains in Atlanta, but if the 33-year-old pitches well in the first half, he could find himself on the trading block as the Braves are fully committed to a youth movement.
Johnson struck out one in a perfect ninth inning Wednesday to pick up his first save of the season in a 5-4 win over the Marlins. The veteran reliever now has a solid 2.25 ERA and 4:2 K:BB through his first four innings on the season. The Braves haven't been winning many games so far, but Johnson seems set as their closer.
Johnson blew his first save of the season Sunday against the Pirates, allowing a run on a hit and two walks in an inning of work. Johnson entered with a one-run lead and proceeded to load the bases before an RBI groundout from Francisco Cervelli tied the score. The Pirates ultimately won in extra innings, casting a light on the poor performance of the offense and the bullpen, as Julio Teheran allowed just two unearned runs through seven innings. Johnson blew just three saves in 23 opportunities last season and should still have a firm grip on the closer's role despite failing to nail down his first chance in 2017. He's worth watching over his next few appearances, though.
Johnson (1-0) worked the 11th and 12th innings of Wednesday's win over the Mets, striking out three while allowing just a single hit to earn the win. The veteran righty is coming up on his 34th birthday, and he did solid work out of Atlanta's bullpen last year, saving 20 games with a 3.06 ERA. While the Braves may not gift him a huge number of save chances and Arodys Vizcaino may push him for the role, Johnson's gotten off to a good start. As long as he's in line to stay in the closer role, he'll hold strong fantasy value.
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