Through 16 starts this season Chicago Cubs starter Edwin Jackson is 5-8 with an ERA of 5.22. Clearly he’s in a rut. As discussed in a previous article, Jackson is not worth the contract that the Cubs gave him back in January of 2013, but he has enough talent to be pitching better than what we’ve seen from him the last 2 seasons. In his last four starts Jackson has been particularly bad, going 1-3 with an ERA of 7.29. The reason for much of Jackson’s struggles are his early inning troubles; according to ESPN.com hitters are hitting .376 and slugging over .600 against Jackson’s first 15 pitches of the ball game this year (league average for .ave & slugging is .251 & .391, per baseball-reference.com).
That means that Jackson is putting himself in a huge hole very early in games. It is extremely hard to pitch from behind for an entire game because of its mental toll as well as the physical toll (trying to make perfect pitches every time to keep the score where it is wears on a pitchers arm). In addition, the mentality of this type of consistent struggle can be crippling to a pitchers long-term performance. Often when pitchers struggle frequently in a certain inning or against certain opponents their mentality changes from “do the best I can,” to “don’t be worse than last time”. For example, Edwin Jackson surrenders about one run, on average, in the first inning of every game because his mentality is more about surviving the first inning than starting strong. Mentally, he has already conceded the run and therefore, more often than not, the other team scores.
Edwin Jackson’s 5.22 ERA is ranked 92nd out of 95 qualifying pitchers this year. It’s important to be delicate with struggling pitchers but there comes a point when something has got to change, be it a move to the bullpen, a trade, ect. Either way, the Cubs need to start thinking of how they are going to get Edwin Jackson right again.
Baseball, Chicago, Chicago Cubs, Edwin Jackson, ERA, MLB, struggles