The Marlins' Josh Johnson was named National League Pitcher of the Month Tuesday, rewarded for an absolutely dominant performance in the first month of the season.
In six starts in April, he only allowed only 4 earned runs on 18 hits. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Johnson's 18 hits are fewest allowed by a pitcher before May 1 since 1900 (minimum 40 innings pitched).
This is the second time Johnson has won the nod, his first coming in June 2010. In Marlins history, only Dontrelle Willis has also won multiple Pitcher of the Month honors.
The big right-hander was somewhat reserved when he learned of the honor, telling the Sun-Sentinel, "I was like, 'Whoa, that's pretty cool.'" He added, "It's always one of those things you look back on later on in life and be like, 'that was pretty sweet, a pretty good time.'"
A pretty good time doesn't even scratch the surface. His 0.88 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and .130 batting average allowed led the majors in April. He has added a curveball to his repertoire that has kept opposing hitters off balance, making his fastballs and sliders even more difficult to hit.
Johnson took no-hitters into the seventh inning twice last month. Indeed, the only thing that could stop Johnson in April was the Marlins' bullpen. He finished the month with a 3-0 record despite Marlins relievers' blowing 2 saves in his final three starts.
Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez told MLB.com recently that he admired Johnson's ability to stay focused despite the bullpen's struggles, saying, "I've been most impressed with the way he's been handling the games he was supposed to win."
Johnson will try to extend his hot start on Thursday afternoon, when the Marlins close their four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
David Hill is a Miami native and the cofounder of Marlins Diehards, the only blog with perspective on the eccentricities of Marlins fandom.