Chicago Cubs: Is Carl Edwards’ potential still greater than his production?

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Most of the recent attention seems to center around the Chicago Cubs young position players. But, perhaps more important are the group of arms in the pen.

We’ve discussed the value of the Chicago Cubs young core of position players and whether their potential has reached or not in their time at the major league level, but what about some of the young pitchers the team has developed?

It’s not talked about often because the Cubs starting rotation has been gathered via free agency or trade. Only Kyle Hendricks spent regular time in the Cubs minor league system.

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Carl Edwards Jr., who was drafted by the Texas Rangers, was one of a handful of relievers acquired via trade by the Cubs in 2013. He went from being a 48th round draft pick to one of the Rangers top-20 prospects in his minor league stint with Texas.

When he was traded to the Cubs, many thought he would be a viable piece to their bullpen once the Cubs would become contenders. Overall, he has not disappointed. The lanky right-hander has delivered in many big spots. However, he does struggle at times with his command and it has come back to haunt Joe Maddon more than once.

In 2017, we saw Edwards lose confidence in the postseason and it played a factor in how Maddon managed his bullpen. The Cubs won a wild Game 5 over the Washington Nationals to barely sneak into the NLCS for the third consecutive season but fell quickly to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. In the series with Washington, Edwards was atrocious, posting a 23.14 ERA in the five-game series. His six-earned runs in 2 1/3 innings pitched gave the bullpen no room for error.

A horrendous end to the 2018 campaign

This September, the same happened with Brandon Morrow and Pedro Strop hurt. It took a toll on a bullpen that needs Edwards to be that eighth inning set-up man. Per Fangraphs, Edwards posted a 5.14 ERA in September, his worst ERA since May. He walked 12 batters in September which was more than any other month over the course of the 2018 campaign.

His late season struggles did not make things easier for the Cubs in a month the offense ranked nearly last in almost every offensive category.

Big-picture? He’s been really, really good

In his career with the Cubs, Edwards has fantastic season numbers. In 52 innings in 2018, Edwards posted a 11.60 K/9, 2.60 ERA, a 2.93 FIP and had 67 strikeouts compared to 32 walks.

Surely, there is value in Edwards and if the Cubs wanted to trade him with another piece they likely would get a nice return. It’s unlikely the Cubs move him and we’ve never heard Edwards’ name in rumors, but there is reason to include him with the position players that have not consistently found a rhythm at the plate.

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