Who will be the fifth starter for the Chicago Cubs pitching staff? That seems to be a popular question with all of us Cubs fans. With cases being made for Travis Wood, Felix Doubront, Jacob Turner and Tsuyoshi Wada, some are forgetting about Edwin Jackson.
Some fans’ memory issues may be intentional because of the four-year, $52 million deal and the complete absence of return on investment the Cubs have seen since he joined the team. That being said, a case can be made that he could be the right man for the job.
Jackson has made 30 or more starts in for the last seven seasons of his career. That statistic will often be overlooked when looking at the success of a pitcher now that we are in the age of fantasy sports and analytics. Jackson’s value could be the dependability that he has shown for most of his career. Durable starters are what all teams look for when selecting starters – namely the back-end pieces of a rotation.
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In the last two seasons, the right-hander is 14-33, a record that includes a league-leading 18 losses in 2013. Last year, Jackson would have likely lost 20 contests if not for the fact that he missed time near the end of the season with an injury. From 2013 to 2014, he saw his earned run average skyrocket from a lackluster 4.98 to 6.33, with his FIP increasing from 3.79 to 4.45 during that same stretch.
However, something can also be said for the fact that, in Jackson’s career, he’s been a journeyman. Now settled into his third year with the Cubs, he may have more of a comfort level with both himself and Chicago pitching coach Chris Bosio not to mention a reunion with manager Joe Maddon, who worked with the right-hander back in 2008 in Tampa Bay. Take those things into consideration, it could add up to a much more calm and consistent pitcher toeing the mound every fifth day.
Bottom line, the Cubs saw maybe the worst case scenario from Jackson last year. But with plenty of other options in store, the pressure is off. He is not expected to be the second or third starter on the Cubs anymore; most do not even expect him to make the rotation, so what does he have to lose?