A signing that once held promise and intrigue amongst Chicago Cubs fans has now become the most glaring blemish on the work done by the front office tandem of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer – the four-year, $52 million deal given journeyman right-hander Edwin Jackson.
The 31-year-old, who has two years remaining on his deal with Chicago, fell to pieces in 2014, leaving his future with the organization very much in doubt. His role heading into 2015 remains unclear. Should he be moved to the bullpen long-term? Or should the 31-year-old right-hander be traded, again?
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Across 27 starts and one relief appearance late in the season, Jackson limped to a 6-15 record with his worst full-season earned run average of his big league career (6.33). He may very well have become Major League Baseball’s first 20-game loser since the Detroit Tigers’ Mike Maroth went 9-21 back in 2003. In his defense, though, he still almost hit 200 innings pitched (193.1) – something that Jackson failed to do in 2014, which killed what little value he had left at this point.
The righty has never been slated in as an ace, but rather, he’s always been a middle-of-the-rotation innings eater. This season, however, he pitched just 140 2/3 innings – his lowest total ever as a starter in a full season. In 2013, despite his struggles, Jackson still eclipsed 175 innings of work, providing some inherent value to the team, despite his 4.98 earned run average. This season, he lasted a full seven innings just three times – and although he pitched at least six frames in seven starts, he allowed at least three runs in five of those seven.
Simply put, Edwin Jackson was terrible in 2014. It didn’t matter whether it was the first or the second half of the season. It did not matter whether it was at Wrigley Field or on the road. The right-hander just failed to get things going and develop any type of consistency for first-year skipper Rick Renteria.
If not for an injury, Jackson appeared well-poised to become the big league’s first 20-game loser since 2003.
That being said, he was worse in some scenarios.
At home, for example, Jackson pitched to the tune of a 7.00 ERA and 1.759 WHIP in 15 starts. On the road, he was bad, but not quite as terrible, posting a 5.61 ERA and a 1.515 WHIP. The wheels really fell of for him after the Midsummer Classic, though. From that point on, the veteran posted an earned run average north of 8.00, eventually seeing his season cut short by an injury in August. He was moved to the bullpen, but made just one appearance – a one inning outing at the end of Sept. to close out his season.
As noted above, with two years left on his contract and more questions than answers after 2014, Jackson’s future with the team appears shaky, at best. If he does return to the Cubs in 2015, he likely won’t be counted on for much – and that’s if he’s back at all.