Johnson made the major league team out of spring training but then struggled out of the gate. He was ultimately demoted following a disastrous outing against the Giants where he allowed five runs in only one inning of work.
Johnson returned from his Albuquerque exile on August 20, and since then it’s been a different story entirely. In his second stint in Denver, Johnson was solid in September, holding batters to a 1.67 ERA and finishing the season by striking out four in two innings of work in Sunday’s finale.
This late-season surge has put DJ on the map for the 2020 bullpen, though that’s not a guarantee. The 30-year-old rookie will have to prove that this recent success is real and not simply a small-sample mirage.
You’ll be forgiven if you don’t know the name Phillip Diehl, as the former Yankees farmhand has managed only 6.1 big league innings this year. Aside from a brief, brutal two-game stint in June (18.00 ERA), all of the lefty’s action has come after the September roster expansion.
Diehl, whose rookie status will be well intact for 2020, has managed to string together seven straight scoreless outings, lowering his ERA from an unreal 27.00 to a just plain ugly 7.36. Positive indicators include the fact that he’s had strong K rates in the minors and has held lefties to a reasonable .200/.333/.333 batting line.
It’s possible that with a strong spring Diehl could earn a spot as situational reliever against left handed batters, though the smart money is probably on a repeat of AAA – at least for a little while.