Chicago Cubs fans love Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. But the Edwin Jackson signing still sticks out as a mistake. Could the duo remedy the situation this summer?
When the Chicago Cubs missed out on landing Anibal Sanchez prior to the 2013 season and settled for Edwin Jackson, most fans were somewhat excited.
We knew he wasn’t going to win any Cy Young Awards or win 20 games, but he was more often than not viewed as a pitcher who would probably give you a dozen wins and pitch to a 4.00 ERA.
Instead, the Cubs got a pitcher who has combined to go 16-34 in 77 games, including 58 starts in his two-plus seasons in Chicago. He’s lost 15 and 18 games, respectively, in the past two seasons, leaving fans clamoring for his release.
Out of camp this spring, first-year Cubs manager Joe Maddon opted to use Jackson out of the bullpen exclusively.
And, by God, it’s worked to perfection.
The veteran right-hander has pitched to a 2.52 earned run average in 25 innings of work that is backed up by a solid 2.79 FIP, another indicator that his success is the real deal.
He’s lowered his WHIP from 1.642 last season to 1.240 this year, providing Maddon some stability in a pen that has been a see-saw all season long.
We’ve seen his erratic nature plague him for the entirety of his time on the North Side, but when it’s counted, he’s turned the corner this year for the Cubs.
With two outs and runners in scoring position, a situation he’s found himself facing 14 times this season, Jackson has limited opposing hitters to a .154/.214/.154 mark while posting an impressive 4.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
More impressive yet is after surrendering 18 homers despite missing a month of last season, Jackson has not allowed a long-ball in 2015. He’s also drastically improved against left-handed hitters, who have always hit him hard.
Throughout his career, opposing lefties have batted .282/.355/.434 against the Chicago Cubs right-hander. But for whatever reason, he’s held them in check this season, as they’re batting a minuscule .161/.289/.194 against him so far this season.
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So what does all this mean?
It’s not completely out of the question that Jackson could be traded this summer. Don’t get me wrong, the Cubs will absolutely have to eat a big chunk of change to get a deal done given the struggles he’s had over the past few years.
But for the first time since the signing, there’s the potential for an ‘out.’
Packaged with prospects, the righty could help build the organization’s future. And even if a deal doesn’t get done this summer, the front office can re-visit the idea this winter to see if there are any takers out there looking for pitching help.
If he winds up staying in Chicago, all we can hope for is that he stays as effective has he’s been so far in 2015.