Pierce’s father, Don Johnson, served as the Padres vice president of marketing from 1992-98. Pierce and his sister would roller blade up and down the ramps of Jack Murphy Stadium while Don was working...Graduated from Faith Christian Academy in Arvada, Colorado...Attended Missouri State University where he set the school’s single-season record with 119 strikeouts (2nd in conference) and ranked third in the Missouri Valley Conference in ERA (2.53) in 2012...Theo Epstein, who was an intern in the Padres office when Don was working, went on to draft Johnson in the 1st round for the Cubs in 2012 out of Missouri State.
Set career-highs in a multitude of categories, including appearances (63), innings pitched (58.2), strikeouts (77), holds (9) and games started (2)...His 11.59 SO/9 IP ratio ranked 11th among all NL relievers (min. 50.0 IP) and he struck out multiple batters in 25 of his 63 outings...Began the season on the 10-day IL (right adductor groin strain) before being reinstated April 14...Was scoreless in 17 of his first 20 outings of the season in April/May, posting a 2.70 ERA with three of his five ER coming in one outing (April 24 @ LAD)...His second and final IL stint was June 19-28 (right triceps inflammation)…made just eight app. (7.0 IP) in June (5.14 ERA)...Posted the longest scoreless appearance streak in the SD pen with 13 from July 11-Aug. 13…the 12.1 scoreless IP over that stretch was the 5th longest in the SD pen in ’21...Allowed earned runs in eight of his final 17 outings from August 15-October 2 (5.09 ERA) but posted a 3.00 ERA with a .211 opp. AVG after the All-Star break...Made two starts (Aug. 24 vs. LAD and Sept. 16 @ SF), snapping a streak of 110 straight relief appearances to begin his career...Relied on two pitches: Curveball (68%) and Sinker (33%)...His curveball had a 2886 rpm spin rate, ranking in the 93rd percentile, with opponents hitting just .207 (35-for-169) off it....His 31.6 K% ranked in the 91st percentile and trailed only his career-high 33.8 K% from the shortened 2020 season.
His 24 appearances tied with Craig Stammen for the most on the SD staff...His 1.38 ERA and .163 opponent AVG at home ranked 3rd among all ML pitchers who made 15+ appearances in their home parks...Allowed no earned runs 21 of his 24 total outings...4 of his 6 earned runs came in a single outing (Aug. 15 @ ARI)...After the 4-run outing, allowed just 7 hits (.171 AVG) and 1 earned run (0.71 ERA) in his final 16 regular season outings (12.2 IP) from Aug. 17 on.... Posted the 4th-longest scoreless inning streak out of the Padres pen in '20 with 7.1 scoreless IP across 19 outings from Aug. 17-Sept.10... Had reverse splits, with his .087 AVG (2-23) to LHH ranking T-11th among all ML pitchers and 7th in the NL (min. 25 batters faced)... Relied on 3 pitches: curve (54.2%), sinker (43.2 %) and four seamer (2.6%).His curve had a 48.1 % whiff rate, and his overall 40.0% whiff rate ranked in the 97th percentile among all ML pitchers...The 95.5 avg. mph on his four seamer ranked in the 90th percentile, while his curve had a 2,969 rpm spin rate, ranking in the 96th percentile...Allowed just 1 earned run in his 5 regular season outings vs. LAD (1.80 ERA, .211 opp. AVG).
POSTSEASON: In the 1st postseason action of his career, appeared in the 1st 5 of the Padres' 6 postseason games... he allowed no runs on just 2 hits while striking out 7 of the 15 batters he faced in his first 4 appearances...allowed 2 runs on 1 hit and 1 BB in Game 2 of the NLDS vs. LAD...he became the 3rd Padre to pitch in 5-or-more consecutive postseason games, joining Brian Boehringer (5 games in 1998) and Trevor Hoffman (7 games spanning 1996 and 1998; 5 of which were in 1998).
Played for the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, posting a career-best 1.38 ERA (9 ER, 58.2 IP) in 58 appearances with 91 SO against 13 BB...Ranked second among Central League relievers in ERA (1.38), SO (91) and holds (40)...Surrendered just 2 HR in 224 batters faced and just 5.2 hits/9 IP...In his 8th season as a professional, set a career-best with a 0.80 WHIP.
Made his first-career Opening Day roster, and in five stints with SF, posted a 5.56 ERA (27 ER, 43.2 IP) in 37 appearances...Earned his first ML win April 30, 2018 vs. SD, tossing a scoreless 9th...Went 3-2 with a 5.83 ERA in 23 games before being optioned to Sacramento (AAA) on June 4 to clear a spot for Madison Bumgarner, who was reinstated from the DL...Recalled from SAC for 1 game on June 15 and was optioned following the game…recalled from SAC for the 5th and final time on September 3...Appeared in 17 games at the Triple-A level, posting a 3.57 ERA and going 4-for-4 in save opportunities.
Posted a 3-2 record with a 4.31 ERA (26er, 54.1ip) in 43 games (one start) for triple-A Iowa...converted nine of his 11 save chances...Struck out 74 batters in 54.1 innings, but also walked 27 batters and had a 1.454 WHIP...Made his Major League debut on May 19 vs. Milwaukee (allowed two unearned runs in a 6th inning that was interrupted by a 1:59 rain delay)...marks his only career Major League appearance...Was designated for assignment by the Cubs on Sept. 13 and claimed off waivers by the Giants on Sept. 20.
Pierce was 4-6 with a 6.14 ERA (43 ER/63.0 IP) in 22 games, 11 starts, for Triple-A Iowa as injuries hindered him throughout the season ... walked 43 and struck out 75, good for an average of 10.7 strikeouts per 9.0 innings ... Was struck in his pitching arm in his first start of the season, April 11 vs. New Orleans, after tossing 3.0 scoreless innings ... spent 10 days on the D.L. before he was activated, April 21 at New Orleans, and tossed 5.0 innings of one-run ball ... Suffered a lat strain, May 2 at Nashville, and landed on the D.L. the following day ... activated, June 13 ... Landed back on the shelf when he left his June 19 start at Memphis with a blister ... spent the minimum seven days on the D.L. before returning, June 27 at Oklahoma City ... Transitioned to the bullpen, July 26, and went on to go 3-0 with a 3.22 ERA (8 ER/22.1 IP) in 11 outings ... walked 13, struck out 35 and held the opponent to a .176 batting average and a .503 OPS.
After missing most of the first half of the season with a back strain, Pierce Johnson posted a 6-2 record with a 2.08 ERA (22 ER/95.0 IP) in 16 starts with Double-A Tennessee ... was on Tennessee's seven-day disabled list from April 9-June 11. Struck out 72 hitters while walking 32 in 95.0 innings … allowed just four home runs. Went 6-0 with a 1.61 ERA (11 ER/61.2 IP) including six quality starts in his first 11 starts of the year. Allowed zero or one run in 10 of his first 11 starts of the season. Went 4-0 with a 1.74 ERA (8 ER/41.1 IP) at home compared to a 2-2 mark with a 2.35 ERA (14 ER/53.2 IP) on the road. Limited left-handed hitters to a .157 batting average (20-for-127) while righties batted .262 (56-for-214). Opponents were just 5-for-42 (.119) against him with runners in scoring position and two outs in an inning. Struck out a combined 25 hitters while allowing no runs in the second or third innings in any of his 16 starts.
Pierce made his first appearance at the Double-A level, starting 17 games for the Smokies ... also made two starts with Kane County after returning from the disabled list in June ... Began the season on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain, making his first appearance on April 22 with Double-A Tennessee ... missed nearly a month of action after straining his left calf on May 19, returning on June 22 ... made two appearances with Single-A Kane County upon returning from the second D.L. stint, allowing three earned runs in 11.0 IP (2.45 ERA) ... Spent the rest of his campaign with Double-A Tennessee, where he went 5-4 with a 2.55 ERA (26 ER/91.2 IP) in 18 games (17 starts) ... Went 4-3 with a 1.80 ERA (13 ER/65.0 IP) in 12 starts between July and August ... Righties and lefties sported identical .194 batting averages against him.
Pierce made a career-high 23 appearances, including 21 starts, as he split the season between Single-A Kane County and Single-A Daytona ... Went 11-6 with a 2.74 ERA (36 ER/118.1 IP) between the two clubs ... Went 5-5 with a 3.10 ERA (24 ER/69.2 IP) in 13 starts with Kane County to begin the season ... was promoted after allowing no runs in 7.0 innings against Wisconsin on June 16 ... In 10 games with Daytona, the righty went 6-1 with a 2.22 ERA (12 ER/48.2 IP) ... fanned 50 batters while walking 21 ... Did not allow a single earned run in five of his 10 appearances for the Daytona Cubs ... fanned at least three batters in each outing ... Earned Cubs Pitcher of the Month honors for August after going 3-0 with a 1.02 ERA (2 ER/17.2 IP) in four games (three starts).
Made his professional debut after being selected 43rd overall in the June draft ... started six games between Rookie-League Mesa and Single-A Boise ... Did not allow a run in his two appearances with Mesa, allowing four hits and walking none in 3.0 IP ... Made four starts with Boise, going 2.0 innings in each appearance ... allowed four earned runs in 8.0 innings (4.50 ERA) with 12 strikeouts and three walks.