The Pirates have called up left-handed pitcher Kris Johnson from Triple-A, first reported by his agency Sosnick Cobbe Sports. Outfielder Andrew Lambo was optioned to Indianapolis.
Johnson, 28, will be making his Major League debut for Pittsburgh. This season, Johnson has posted a 2.41 ERA (best in the International League), 90 strikeouts and 40 walks in 130.2 innings for the Indianapolis Indians. Over 20 starts and five relief appearances, the lefty has held left-handed hitters to a .208 average and .508 OPS, allowing only one home run in 120 at-bats against those batters.Update: General manager Neal Huntington spoke Sunday and said Johnson had “earned” his opportunity and is a legitimate candidate for a September call up. Andrew Lambo “did nothing to deserve being sent down” and will return “sooner rather than later,” but Huntington said a position player had to be demoted and Josh Harrison provides more defensive flexibility than Lambo does.
He was drafted by the Red Sox with the 40th overall pick of the 2006 MLB Draft and joined the Pirates on a minor league deal in 2012. After a mediocre 4.53 ERA for Indianapolis last year, Johnson has turned it on of late. Since June 1, he has struck out 47 hitters and walked only 17, earning our Pitcher of the Month honors for June and July.
Johnson will wear No. 60 for the Pirates and is active for Sunday’s home game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Pirates are in the middle of playing 13 straight games without an off-day, so Johnson (who most recently took the mound Monday and threw 42 pitches) will provide fresh relief. Pittsburgh’s bullpen has had to average more than five innings per game the last three days, and Johnson was scheduled to start Sunday for Indianapolis.
Lambo played four games and went 1-for-9 since joining the Pirates on Tuesday in St. Louis. Fans should not consider his demotion the end of Lambo’s chance to make the playoff roster. Pittsburgh simply needs an extra pitcher for Sunday’s game against Arizona, and perhaps the upcoming road trip, and Lambo would not match up well against starting left-handed pitcher Wade Miley. Lambo can re-join the active roster after 10 days (before the August 31 playoff roster deadline) or sooner if there is an injury.
Catcher Michael McKenry, who is out for the season with a left knee sprain, was moved from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL to open up a 40-man roster spot for Johnson.