Edwin Jackson has been traded six times and has pitched for seven teams in the past eight seasons. You’d be excused, then, for assuming that there’s something teams don’t like about that guy. But yesterday, when he was announced as the Cubs’ latest acquisition, there was no suggestion of that at all. Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com reports:
“We did all the digging we could do,” Hoyer said. “The reasons for him moving around certainly weren’t (because) he wasn’t a good teammate or didn’t work hard. It was kind of more contractual.”
As Jackson said with a smile: “Everyone likes me.”
For what it’s worth, I’ve never heard anything about Jackson being disliked or anything. In addition to the contractual stuff — which has mattered the past couple of seasons, as everyone has known he would not sign a long-term contract before reaching free agency — I think there is just something unique about him as a pitcher that has made him ultimately tradeable.
He’s a lottery ticket. Or a coin in a fountain. He’s got great stuff at times, and everyone can watch him pitch for a while and imagine him paying off huge. But at other times, when one is being rational, one can see his flaws and risks. In this regard he reminds me of Sid Fernandez. And to some extent Matt Clement. Guys who, at times, look unhittable and at other times, man do they get hit.
Anyway, because of his highs and lows, this back and forth happens with Jackson more than it does with other pitchers. It leads to a greater-than-usual frequency of one team (his own) being tired of him and another team wanting a piece of that lottery ticket. That’s my theory anyway.
Maybe he pays off for the Cubs. Maybe he doesn’t. But it’ll be interesting to see how he’s handled now that he’s a long-term investment rather than a lottery ticket.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.