Just when you thought Edwin Jackson had found his happy medium for the Chicago Cubs, along came Friday night.
On the heels of an 11-strikeout performance against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers, Jackson laid a gigantic egg against the San Diego Padres. Jackson allowed eight earned runs, his worst outing since a six-run effort on April 8 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The worst thing of all is this start came in Petco Park, which is regarded as a pitcher’s park by many in MLB.
Yet Padres batters Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal, whose batting averages are barely treading water, hit home runs off of Jackson in this game.
This leads Cubs fans to ask the question: is it time to pull the plug on Jackson?
Keep in mind the Cubs would not be the first team this season to end an experiment with a pitcher who is making a higher salary. Just this week, the Pirates announced Wandy Rodriguez had been designated for assignment, even though the Pirates would have to eat roughly $5.5 million in salary this season. If the Pirates could afford to torch a pile of money like that, couldn’t the Cubs cut their losses and check out some of the pitchers who are in Triple-A?
There is no question this team is a disaster. We won’t even get started on owner Tom Ricketts and his loony attempt to “modernize” Wrigley Field, which is a story in itself. Ricketts says he needs the revenue to go out and sign the quality free agents.
The trouble with this plan is Jackson isn’t a quality free agent. If this is the best the Cubs can do, what’s next?
Jackson’s defenders will point out he has a 2.08 earned run average in the past 14 days, so his ERA is coming down. This is guaranteed to knock it right back up. His ERA was 3.98, so with eight runs allowed in four innings, all earned, what happens now?
Jeff Samardzija has all but said he wants out of Chicago. Jackson may punch his ticket right along with him. Maybe it is time to look at pitchers like Tsuyoshi Wada and his 2.35 ERA. Maybe general manager Theo Epstein should consider a promotion of Erik Jokisch, whose ERA is right around Jackson’s. The difference with Jokisch is his command (nine walks, 47 strikeouts) appears to be much better.
It has been a frustrating year for Cubs fans. It’s hard to be a baseball fan in Chicago. The Chicago White Sox are at least showing off some of the younger hitters like Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez.
The Cubs are showing off Jackson.
It’s no wonder they are in the basement.