Chicago Cubs: Carl Edwards has electric stuff, sky-high potential

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Carl Edwards Jr.
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Carl Edwards Jr. /

It is easy to judge a pitcher’s bad outing. But just step back, take a deep breath, and consider the big picture. With Carl Edwards, the Chicago Cubs are.

Many may have become disenchanted with Carl Edwards Jr. at times throughout the Chicago Cubs‘ 2017 season – namely the playoffs. It got to the point where the 26-year-old locked his Twitter account because people on social media can’t control themselves.

But I’ve always held a high regard for what the wire-framed, electric-throwing, Edwards features.

Remember, it was his first full season

For what was his first full season in 2017, Edwards made a career-high 73 appearances, near ML highs, threw 66 1/3 innings – almost double his 2016 season. He posted a 2.98 ERA, and was 21st among all relievers in WHIP (1.01). He was also first in BABIP (.192). His 3.40 FIP was just behind Wade Davis (3.38). He was 10th among all relievers with 12.75 strikeouts-per-nine and led all relievers with an opposing batting average of .132.

And yes, Edwards was toward the very bottom with 5.16 walks-per-nine. In the playoffs, his struggle with control loomed largely. Over 4 2/3 innings, he allowed six earned runs, walked six, struck out eight, and had an 11.57 ERA.

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Fatigue is possible, he’s human

I saw many social media posts wishing the Cubs would get rid of Edwards, simply because he showed some struggles — again, in his first full season — and maybe not accounting for additional workloads and possible fatigue.

It is incredibly shortsighted to wish the team to rid themselves of a potential closer for down the road, a role that could be his at some point, and mainly because he is under team control through the 2022 season. I don’t think the 2017 control issues that crept up on Edwards is necessarily indicative of his career trajectory going forward, and, I’m sure he was fatigued. Not an excuse but it’s reality. That entire bullpen throughout the NLCS was.

Looking at Edwards’ before and after the All-Star Break, his numbers were fairly consistent. Some of his struggles were attributed by the one-team wrecking crew, the Nationals, who hit .417 off him over just three regular-season innings. Including a grand slam in early August.

Spreading the wealth

Joe Maddon also kept going to Edwards in specific postseason situations, for (what he must have considered) a lack of a better option. Remember John Lackey in the ninth against the Dodgers for Game 2?

Sometimes, you just gotta roll the dice. And hope.

It is why the bullpen was a major point of interest for the Cubs to address this offseason, with the additions of Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek, Drew Smyly possibly for the second half, and the return of Brian Duensing, who might have more high-leverage opportunities this upcoming season.

Then there’s Jim Hickey who will work with the pitchers, namely Edwards, and together, can improve a myriad of techniques. And possibly, just a second full season is what Edwards needs to get back on track.

Addressing getting rid of

Depending on the situation for a team, and the potential return, I am always leery of trades that aren’t necessary. For Edwards, he’s among the top of the list of who I would not want to risk giving up too soon. Talking about a pitcher who has electric stuff when he is on, under control, and not to mention razor-quick reflexes.

Yeah. That was nice.

That tweet was necessary after his sterling inning of work that night, just 12 pitches, helping the Cubs sweep the Cardinals June 4.

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Cubbies Crib colleague Justin Curran also offered an opinion on Edwards, suggesting he spend some time in the minors.

If Edwards goes through any struggling points, maybe, but whether struggles were due in part to fatigue, mechanics, or psychological, I’m not sure a demotion is what cures. You never know, however, and it may have helped Kyle Schwarber with his 2017 second half.