I was not a fan of the Edwin Jackson trade to start out. As I’m prone to do, I overstated my discontent wild hyperbole. And then, I got worked up and dropped the White Sox-recent-starting-pitcher-reference atomic bomb. I compared him to Todd Ritchie.
Todd in 2002 produced this memorable line: 5-15, 6.06 ERA, 1.706 WHIP, 11.9 hits per 9 innings. A sabermetric approach shows that Ritchie had a bad, but not Titanic-hitting-the-iceberg 4.84 FIP, and a WAR of 1.4, which suggests that the #3 starter for the White Sox was simply doomed to die a gruesome death and taste the sting of infernal BABIP hellfires (we did have Carlos Lee in the outfield).
But still, Ritchie represents all that is unholy in the White Sox trading for damaged goods. For me to bring up his name meant that Jackson slipping in his delivery and throwing an errant fastball into Joey Cora’s temple was one of many disastrous results I considered a possibility
Well, it would appear to be time for me to eat a lot of crow….a lot of it. With Jake Peavy’s arm having exploded, splattering remnants of shoulder bits all over the U.S. Cellular infield, the hitters of the world having finally caught up to Freddy Garcia (weird, given how slow he throws), Buehrle being Buehrle, and Danks and Floyd having the audacity to have ERAs over 1.00, Jackson has comfortably slid into the role of best-performing starter on the team with an absurd 4 quality starts that have seen him not just serve the role of innings eater (7 per start), but suddenly assume the role of ‘guy who overpowers people’.
Eddie For The Win (still tinkering nicknames at this point) has always had great stuff, but up until he was traded to Chicago, he only had two career double-digit strikeout games. Now he has 4, and they were his last two outings, giving him 10.9 Ks/per 9 innings with the White Sox. He’s walked 5 in his past two starts, so while his control problems haven’t been eradicated, they’ve come a long way seeing as they were the biggest reason he was a crap starter up to this point. In all, 4 starts, 28 innings, 34 K, 0.96 ERA, 1.07 WHIP. Woo.
But now, as I’m also prone to do, let me try to cut Jackson down to size. These four starts have come against two teams, Detroit and Baltimore. As hard as it’s always said to be to beat a team twice in rapid succession, Detroit is missing a lot of run producers from its lineup, and Baltimore is just plain weak. For the month of August, Detroit has actually been 10th in baseball in OPS, but Baltimore has been a less impressive 19th (strangely enough, the White Sox are 1st). I would really like to see Ed dominate a team with more than a popsicle’s chance in hell at making the playoffs in the near future to maintain my level of giddiness.
Also, this is definitely the best 4-game stretch of Jackson’s career (I know this-I went through all the game logs). As tempting as it is to say that Cooper fixed Jackson via training, bullpen sessions, rubbing single malt whiskey into his shoulders, etc., Jackson is going to fall off from this performance level if for no other reason than he’s not Bob Gibson. The question is how hard.
I don’t feel it will be that severe. Isolated Fielding Independent Pitching numbers are hard to come by for a four-game split, but the biggest change in Jackson’s game have been the things he is in the most control of (strikeouts, walks, not throwing fastballs at the mascot). These will likely come down too, but at least Edwin isn’t profiting off everyone randomly flying out to center on meatballs down the middle. He is getting guys out.
Because of his high strikeout rate, his heavy innings load, and the fact that he’s only 3 years older than Daniel Hudson, this trade could not only be worth it, but come out heavily in the Sox’ favor. The projections for Jackson coming out of the minors were a lot stronger than they were for Hudson, it was simply a question of whether Eddie was a lost cause at 26 years of age. Clearly that’s not the case.
Pass the crow. I’m not hungry, but I’ll make some room.