by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
On paper it was a miserable season for Edwin Jackson, but the key phrase there is on paper. When you look at the numbers his disastrous season actually had the makings of a pretty decent one:
136 Strikeouts (6.93 K/9)
59 Walks (3.03 BB/9)
63.3% Strand Rate
Yes, the ERA and WHIP were ugly, but the luck metrics placed him among the worst in the league for pitchers who qualified for the ERA title (he had the worst strand rate and fifth worst BABIP). The thing is he was not hit overly hard (20.3% line drive rate), so the elevated numbers were clearly based on poor luck as opposed to poor performance.
His strikeout rate overall was down, though it was right around his career norm (6.88 K/9) and is hardly a crippling number. He also saw a major drop in the second half (7.80 to 5.76), giving hope that he could be even better in 2014 (he was at 7.97 in ’12)
Jackson’s control was solid, as always, with a 3.03 BB/9 (his fifth consecutive season of 3.35 or better). He also saw a spike in groundballs, posting a 51.3% mark. Not only that, it was consistent all season with a 52.4% mark in the first half and 50.0% in the second. Pitching in what can be a homer friendly ballpark, that new found skill is extremely important.
So, lets break this down:
- 18 losses is going to scare owners off
- Lots of bad luck
- Solid control
- Strikeout upside
- Newfound groundball ability
Besides pitching for the Cubs, which could make wins difficult, what’s not to like? He had a disappointing 2013 campaign, but the potential is there to come back strong in 2014. It’s obviously way to early to tell what type of investment will be needed in 2014, but chances are it’s not going to be very much. In other words, as a late round target, he is well worth adding.