Searching for Saves: Is Luke Jackson Primed To Become “The Man” In Atlanta?

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It’s clear that A.J. Minter is getting tougher and tougher to trust.  Just look at his performance in two appearances this past weekend:

  • April 27 – 0.2 IP, 4 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 K
  • April 28 – 0.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 K

Put it together and he allowed 4 ER on 4 H and 2 BB while getting just three outs.  The assumption that he’s going to grab hold of the role and run with it in the absence of Arodys Vizcaino appears to be misguided.  Now the question is who could at least share the role, if not take it outright.

Our early speculation had been Dan Winkler, though he was used in the sixth inning on Sunday and allowed a solo home run in the process.  When Minter stumbled and got into trouble it was Luke Jackson who was called on to get the final two outs.  That doesn’t make him fit for the role necessarily, but there has to be at least a little bit of intrigue.

First let’s look at the skills heading into Sunday’s game:

  • Strikeouts – 10.13 K/9 (13.7% SwStr%)
  • Control – 4.05 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 76.5%

While the control has been mediocre, combining the groundball rate with the strikeout potential is off the charts.  The real question is whether or not he can maintain this type of groundball rate, a significant jump over his career mark of 47.3%.

He has steadily increased the usage of his slider, going from 42.2% to 52.9% in the early part of this season.  He’s also throwing the pitch nearly 1.5 mph faster, at 88.1 mph (and his fastball is also up to 95.6 mph).  Is that enough of a justification?  Perhaps, but does a little more velocity create this type of jump in Groundballs per Balls in Play (GB/BIP):

  • 2018 – 65.96%
  • 2019 – 87.50%

How about a jump in the GB/BIP on his fastball from 29.79% to 57.14%?  We’ll wait and see if this is just a small sample size aberration or not, but if it’s real he could be morphing into an elite reliever before our eyes.  That’s something that simply can’t be ignored and makes him worth targeting if you are searching for saves.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

4 COMMENTS

  1. I also desperately need saves. I’ll be getting rid of Conley this week (NL only), I guess you’d recommend Jackson over Nick Anderson? Anderson’s K/9 is ridiculous but then again, he’s on the Marlins 😞

    • If you are looking for SV immediately I’d lean Jackson. That said, Anderson is the better option long-term

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