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The Big Issue surrounding the A’s right now, clearly, is the Jim Johnson problem. He and starter Scott Kazmir were the team’s big offseason acquisitions, and primary reasons a lot of analysts were giving Bob Melvin’s team a decent shot at winning their third consecutive AL West title.

This little missive is not meant to detail Johnson’s early-season failings; just turn on local sports-talk radio and bide your time during a couple rounds of Colin Kaepernick angst if you want that. Nor is it meant to write off Johnson, who may well emerge rested and capable after being replaced by that most dreaded teammate – By Committee – for a while.

No, the point here is to reinforce how amazing the A’s pitching, minus Johnson, has been through the first nine games of 2014.

Subtract the former/future(?) closer’s statistics, and take a look at the Oakland staff’s line thus far:

Record: 6-1
ERA: 1.63
Strikeouts: 68
Walks: 26
WHIP: 0.99

That’s for the entire staff. Good heavens. We could be looking at an ultra-rare two-Athletic All-Star roster (talking to you, Sean Doolittle) if they keep it up. In fact, there’s just one statistic in which our mythical, trimmed Oakland staff is lacking: saves. The Johnson-less A’s are still looking for their first.

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