Edwin Jackson came into his final Spring Training tuneup just looking for a little positive momentum for himself and his Chicago Cubs. Like Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood before him, Jackson managed to be quite impressive in his final spring tuneup. He’s likely hoping that success can translate over into a 2014 season that is quite a bit better than his 2013 season was.
It was Jackson who actually underlined everything that was wrong with the 2013 Cubs. While they were never expected to be all that good, there were several players on the team who massively underperformed. Jackson stood out because he got the richest pitching contract Theo Epstein has handed out since taking over in Chicago.
Jackson “rewarded” that gamble by posting an 8-18 record and an ERA approaching five. In order to avoid the ire of many a Cubs fan, Jackson needs to put together a more solid season in 2014.
Jackson had spent most of the spring looking like this year is just going to be a repeat of last, until his latest outing. The No. 3 man in the Cubs’ rotation threw a gem on Friday night, throwing four innings and allowing just one hit. Even better is he didn’t walk a man and didn’t allow a single run.
Jackson has always been a pitcher that embodied unrealized potential and inconsistency. If he can find a way to harness what he did on Friday night and duplicate it more often than not, he could be one of the surprise stories of the season.
With a mostly still unproven pitching staff and lineup behind him, Jackson could even become someone who takes on the role of a clubhouse leader. If he can find a way to get sustained success this year, that success could even be catching.
The Cubs aren’t going to the playoffs or the World Series this season. The team does have enough talent to catch some people by surprise.