During the 46-minute rain delay Sunday afternoon in the Cubs/Cardinals game, I received an email from BCB's Erik Peterson... basically, as he termed it, "a rant" about Edwin Jackson.
It got pretty long (and profane), but I pretty much agree with all of it. Jackson just doesn't seem to know how to pitch. It's been said by more than one observer that he has just two pitches -- fastball and slider. How can you be a successful starting pitcher without a third pitch? The real red flag for Theo & Co. should have been the seven other teams he pitched for. You know, he had decent years for some of them and pitched in the postseason for three of them (Cardinals, Rays, Nationals). And yet not one of these teams wanted him to stick around for more than a year -- seriously. Once he finally established himself as a big-league starter, the most years he stayed in one place was two, in Tampa Bay.
And here we are, stuck with him for two more full years after this year. Of the 34 starts he's made as a Cub, just 14 of them (and none this year) qualify as "quality starts." Yes, I am well aware how flawed that stat is, but only five pitchers in 2013 who had as many starts as Jackson (31) had fewer.
How about looking at his record in Bill James Game Score? That's a better measure for a starting pitcher in many ways. 50 is considered "average." Jackson has had 16 game scores over 50 in his 34 Cub starts. Comparison point: since the start of 2013, Travis Wood has had 26 such games, in the same number of starts. (If you're not familiar with Game Score, it's explained at this link.)
Jackson doesn't attack hitters. He appears to just stand on the mound and throw, with no real plan. If you watch him between pitches, at times he just stands there tossing the ball in and out of his glove. What's up with that? He works slowly, which drives fielders (and fans) nuts. This is especially important against a pitcher like Michael Wacha; you've got little margin for error against such a hurler, and Jackson's work simply doesn't measure up.
There doesn't seem to be anything the Cubs can do with him except hope he can put together a couple of decent months -- he's done this before -- and maybe they can dump his contract on a contending team. Otherwise, we likely have more than 90 more of these games to agonize over.
You might have noticed I have avoided, up to now, the result of Sunday's game. Here it is: The Cubs lost to the Cardinals 6-4. They have also now lost all four series they have played so far this year two games to one. That streak will end with the next series, because the upcoming set against the Yankees in New York is just two games long. Blake Parker, making his first appearance after his recall, allowed a couple of runs in an ugly eighth inning that included some poor fielding by Mike Olt. All that did was remove this game from the one-run category, probably just as well. Wesley Wright was released from purgatory and made his first appearance in nine days, getting Matt Carpenter to hit a line drive right at Anthony Rizzo.
It was nice to see Rizzo hit a two-run homer in the first inning. In the end, all that accomplished is giving the Cubs another lead to blow, which makes five games this young season in which they've blown leads. This series did a good job of showing just how far the Cubs have to go before they get to Cardinals-level playoff contention every year. The Cubs did manage a consolation run in the ninth inning on a single by Olt following a Junior Lake triple.
Since the complaint department is clearly open for business this afternoon, I have a few about WGN-TV's production. WGN showed some sort of health show during the rain delay -- something not even remotely related to baseball (and which I watched none of, instead flipping between some other baseball games). After the return to St. Louis, Len Kasper asked Jim Deshaies what he did during the delay. JD replied that he did some online shopping, visited the guys in the radio booth and watched some of the Masters golf tournament. Truth be told, I'd rather have watched Deshaies do that than WGN's lame rain-delay programming.
Also, whoever decided that blasting Chuck Berry songs really loud coming back from commercial breaks, so that whatever Len and JD were saying was totally drowned out, needs some lessons in audio mixing.
Finally, it appears the block-letter "CUBS" uniform is now the de facto road uniform, because despite being noted as an "alternate", it's been worn for all six road games so far (except for Lake's two-inning mistake in Pittsburgh wearing the "CHICAGO" jersey).
And now, we have more than 48 hours until the next Cubs game, Tuesday night in New York. We'll have plenty here at BCB over the next couple of days, including a game thread Monday evening for the four games in the Cubs minor-league system. Follow along with what Cubs prospects are doing, starting Monday at 5 p.m. CT.