Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post interviewed Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty about a variety of topics today, including the idea that Edwin Jackson has been tipping his pitches for years now.
McCatty reviewed video of Jackson’s starts and thinks he was letting batters know what was coming out of the windup:
These guys are so good, they look at every single thing. Hitting coaches are looking at every guy on video. You pick up on stuff. It’s simple as not laying your hands down on a slider or fastball or changeup. Once these guys see it, it makes a big difference.
Most pitchers are better working from the windup with no runners on base, but the opposite has been true for Jackson during the past three seasons. Kilgore notes that he held opponents to a .246 batting average and .693 OPS out of the stretch, compared to a .283 batting average and .782 OPS out of the windup.
Whether or not that actually means he was tipping pitches on a regular basis and is capable of significant improvement if McCatty helps him fix that is obviously unclear, but it at least provides some reason to think Jackson has more upside than he’s shown.
The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.
Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.
The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.
The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.