Last year, Edwin Jackson’s struggles epitomized the lackluster performance of the Cubs, as a whole, as the team lost 96 games – making it three consecutive campaigns in which the club has topped the 90-loss plateau, averaging 96 losses per season over that span.
The right-hander was in the first season of a four-year, $52 million contract with Chicago, which seemed to set the bar fairly high amongst Cubs fans, in general. He fell flat on his face out of the gate, going 0-4 in six starts in March and April, while pitching to the tune of a 6.27 ERA during that stretch.
It would be easy to chalk those struggles up to acclimating to a new atmosphere, playing in Chicago and a myriad of other reasons, but truth be told, things never really got better for Jackson. During the 2013 campaign, he posted a monthly earned run average lower than 5.00 just one time, and that came in July, when he pitched like an ace, going 3-1 with a 1.83 ERA in five starts.
Following what some considered to be the turning of a corner, he reverted back to the right-hander fans saw prior to July, combining to go 1-7 in his final ten starts of the season with a WHIP above 1.700 – far above his career mark of 1.440.
Needless to say, there is room for improvement as Jackson enters year two of his contract. The Cubs aren’t looking for him to be a front-end starter. He was signed to do what he has done over the course of his big league career – eat innings and pitch to the tune of a .500 record. Last season, his 18 losses topped all National League pitchers and his 14 wild pitches were the fourth-worst tally in the league. Consistency is a must for the 30-year-old in 2014, as the Cubs continue to rebuild
So what exactly should Cubs fans look for this season out of the veteran? Well, to be blunt, don’t expect more than 10-to-12 wins and a mid-4.00 earned run average. He’s going to pitch between 170 and 200 innings and notch around seven strikeouts per nine. The biggest mistake fans could make heading into this new season would be to anticipate a rejuvenated Edwin Jackson who is capable of winning 20 games. That’s just not the pitcher he is anymore, and the best thing we can all do is accept that and move forward.