As you all know now, the Chicago Cubs have made their decision about Edwin Jackson and he will now be the long relief pitcher out of the bullpen. It is an important position to the team and not one that should be taken lightly.
Every bullpen needs at least one member who can come into a game in a pinch to take over for a struggling starting pitcher early in a game.
Essentially they are substitute starting pitcher in a lot of ways.
The Chicago Cubs I’m sure knew a little while ago that this was the course the team was going to go with Jackson. Travis Wood pitched very well this spring and you have to think that last year’s performance was a hiccup after the year before being an all-star.
Another reason could be that Wood has shown that he can pitch well in the National League and in Chicago – Jackson hasn’t shown very much success in the N.L. or Chicago. Wood best serves the Cubs as a starter – whether they are planning on starting him throughout the year or are showcasing him for another team.
Jackson does have a chance to prove his worth to the Cubs in this new role. It is one that he needs to take as a challenge and not a demotion.
The Cubs have had some successful relievers who were placed in the bullpen as the long relief pitchers and it turned out to be a great spot for them. And when they were called upon to pitch for an injury or dead arm – they took advantage of the opportunity and thrived.
Sean Marshall was excellent in this role and turned out to be a very valuable member of the Cubs team. Others saw it that was as well – at least Cincinnati did as they traded Travis Wood for Marshall.
Carlos Villanueva had a small amount of success in the role for the Cubs but was very good in the same role with Toronto before signing with Chicago.
Even before those two, Terry Mulholland was the long reliever for the Cubs in the late 90’s and did the job well.
"“The last couple years haven’t been great, but I know what I’m capable of doing, and I know my abilities. It would definitely be fun playing here with the guys and winning a lot of ballgames and helping contribute to winning a lot of ballgames, whatever my role is.” Edwin Jackson – via Gordon Wittenmyer Chicago Sun Times"
Will Jackson take this new challenge and succeed? Only time will tell if he can. I think a new approach to his game plan and maybe less pressure on him will help him relax and pitch. He can’t do much worse than he already has for the Chicago Cubs so now he needs to just think there is nowhere else to go but up.