Chicago Cubs: The guy for clean frames, not pressure-packed dilemnas
In Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, Ken Rosenthal stood on the sidelines and relayed that Maddon would only go to veteran left-hander Jon Lester in a ‘clean inning.’ Of course, the Cubs manager bucked that trend mid-game, but that same concept could have been applied to Edwards Jr. in 2018.
In low-leverage appearances, the 27-year-old hurler posted a 2.72 xFIP, 14.14 K/9 and stranded 80.7 percent of baserunners – well above the typical league average of 70-72 percent. He also cut down on the free passes, walking just 3.86 men per nine (which clocks in well below his career average of 4.92 BB/9.
But in what Fangraphs deemed ‘high-leverage’ situations, Edwards Jr. struggled mightily. His xFIP sykrocketed to 5.95, his strikeout rate fell from north of 14 per nine all the way down to just 6.75 K/9 and his walks skyrocketed to nearly six per nine innings pitched. His LOB%? That plummeted down to 46.7 percent, as well.
Now, the LOB% decline is expected – if you inherit runners, rather than start an inning for yourself, the odds are inherently higher at least one crosses the plate. But the Chicago Cubs need Edwards to become the guy who can step into such instances and keep opponents off the board – and they need it to happen sooner rather than later.