Johnson struck out a batter over a clean inning in Wednesday's victory over the Indians. Johnson was brought in to bolster a relatively young Angels relief crew. Despite his experience closing, the veteran arm has been deployed in earlier innings behind the likes of Blake Parker, Cam Bedrosian and Keynan Middleton. Manager Mike Scioscia is notorious for shuffling his late-inning options, but Johnson appears to be nothing more than a middle reliever at this time.
The Angels are likely to enter the season with a closer committee, Maria Guardado of MLB.com reports. While Blake Parker ended the 2017 season as the Angels' closer and seems to be the team's best reliever, manager Mike Scioscia says he prefers to have a number of pitchers able to pitch the ninth inning. If a committee approach ends up being used, Johnson would likely be a part of it, as he has 176 career saves and put up a respectable 3.98 xFIP last year even though his 5.56 ERA was quite ugly. Even in a nominal committee, however, the best arms tend to end up with the majority of the saves, and for the Angels, that would be Parker, not Johnson. Johnson could be a viable target in deep leagues, but Cam Bedrosian appears to be a better bet to pile up save chances with Parker if the committee approach holds up.
Johnson was traded from the Braves to the Angels on Thursday in exchange for minor-league pitcher Justin Kelly. Johnson spent all of 2017 in the Braves' bullpen, converting 22 of his 31 save opportunities while compiling a 5.56 ERA, 1.48 WHIP and 61:28 K:BB in 56.2 innings. He fell out of favor as the team's closer in August and posted an unsightly 9.88 ERA, 2.12 WHIP and 6.6 K/9 over the final two months of the season (13.2 innings), so he likely won't get a shot to immediately reclaim his ninth-inning role with Los Angeles. Still, he should hold a high-leverage role in the Angels' bullpen next season.
Johnson (Achilles) tossed 1.2 perfect innings across two appearances Sunday and Monday. A bout of Achilles tendinitis cost Johnson most of September, but he has recovered in time to make a few appearances before the end of the season. Johnson lost his grip on the closer role shortly after the All-Star break and has failed to get right in lower-leverage spots, posting an 11.12 ERA and 2.03 WHIP since Aug. 1. It's hard to imagine he will get the job back at any point in 2018.
Johnson didn't make the trip to Washington due to Achilles tendinitis but could be available for this weekend's series against the Mets, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Johnson will get a little time off while dealing with this mild injury, which seems to have been plaguing him for a little time now since his last appearance over a week ago. The right-hander has had a rough last month, sporting a 21.00 ERA and 3.33 WHIP over his last six innings (eight appearances) on the mound.