Carl Edwards Jr. serves a key piece in the Chicago Cubs bullpen and looked dominant through much of the season. Lately, though, he has been a little shaky.
It has been an up and down season for Carl Edwards Jr. The 26-year old Chicago Cubs fireballer has overall put up very good numbers: a 2.36 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 2.53 FIP, 12.0 K/9 and 0.4 HR/9 in 42 innings. Unfortunately, he missed a lot of time due to injury, including all of June.
Back in March and April, Edwards put together a disgustingly good stretch where batters did not come even close to making contact with his pitches. His first 13 games, he pitched to a 0.66 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 0.88 FIP, .146 average against and a 43.4 percent strikeout rate. To put those strikeout numbers into perspective, that equates to 15.15 K/9.
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His May saw a dip in effectiveness as his walk rate went up from 9.4 to 13.5 percent and his FIP went up to 4.30. The strikeouts were still coming, a 13.50 K/9 which was a 32.7 percent clip. Then, the injury issues settled in and he did not pitch again until mid-July. That month was smoother with a 2.35 ERA, 1.07 FIP and 12.91 K/9 in eight appearances.
An odd August
Now we get to August where the ERA is good (0.96), but some of the peripherals are not. The strikeouts and way down and his command looks even worse now. He has been able to wiggle out of trouble, hence the low ERA, but the outings just have not been very smooth.
Leadoff walks and not missing bats have been an issue. Probably the stat that stands out most is the 4.82 K/9 (12.5 K percent). Edwards went from averaging double-digit strikeouts per nine for most of the year to barely five. The walk rate in August is at a season-high 15 percent, and the leadoff walks force him to try to throw more fastballs to try to get the command back.
With that being said he is not getting hit terribly hard. Despite the 4.01 FIP and 1.393 WHIP this month, batters are slugging .242 against and no home runs. The hard contact is down from 35.3 percent in July to 17.2 percent. He may not be missing as many bats, but the balls in play are not very hard hit and his BABIP against this month is .241. Balls in play have been a big part of him getting out of trouble after walking guys.
Fixing some issues
It is no secret that command has been one of the biggest bugaboos for Edwards. Overall though he has had a successful run as a reliever because the stuff is so good. Key for him is to get ahead of hitters (and maintain fastball velocity) to start the inning, that is when he gets in control. Saw it early on and hopefully it can return soon.
It can be easy to feel doubtful about a guy that can have command issues, but he has shown so much good that he can turn it back around. He is a key piece in a bullpen especially since they will be without their closer until further notice.