Edwin Jackson takes the mound tonight in the first game of a three-game set with the Indians and we have no idea what to expect. Jackson could throw a 2-hit shutout, striking out 10 or he might get knocked out in the third inning. Therein lies the enigma that is Edwin Jackson, Jr. Much has been made of Nuke and his recent improved pitching. With David Price at least a year away, some are starting to believe that Jackson may become the third starter that the Rays desperately need.
Here at RI we have been very hard on Jackson at times, while we have been more forgiving of others, such as Andy Sonnanstine. The difference is consistency. Everybody pretty much knows what they get in Sonnanstine. He is going to be good enough to be either a #5 or a #6 starter (AAA) in the rotation and will likely never be much better (or worse) than that. When Duke first came up, we were very skeptical, noting that it would be much more difficult to get major league hitters to swing and miss. But despite the numbers, we have seen a level of consistency and room for improvement, that leads us to believe that Sonny can be a dependable starter. While he is not likely to ever be a dominant starter, it looks like Duke can be an inning eater and will keep the Rays in most games. That is all you ever ask for in a back-of-the-rotation guy.
Jackson is a much different story. Even at his worst, we predicted that Jackson would someday put it all together, get on a roll and win 20 games, we just speculated that it would happen with another organization. While Sonnanstine will most likely be a back-of-the-rotation guy his entire career, Jackson has a much bigger upside…and downside. He has the “stuff” to be an ace as evident by his last start in which he was touching 99 on the radar gun in the ninth inning. He also has the ability to go out and throw a stinker like his June 13th start against the Padres in which he allowed 5 runs and recorded only 1 out before being pulled from the game.
Has Jackson magically turned the corner? In his last five starts he has only allowed more than two runs once. That stretch includes his first complete game shutout. But it also includes a start in Baltimore in which he couldn’t finish the fourth inning and gave up six runs.
Nuke has the stuff to be the Rays third starter and he could be great. But until we see a prolonged stretch of consistency, we will continue to be skeptical as to whether or not he is up to the task. When Jackson takes the mound tonight we won’t feel safe until he is pulled from the game. Even if he has thrown six shutout innings, we know that Jackson is only a couple of pitches away from a Nuclear meltdown.
Jackson wants to be Rays’ No. 3 [TBO]
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- John Romano praises the Devil Rays for spending the money to get the pitcher. [tampabay.com]
Ain’t it great?
It is a rare day when the Rays overwhelm anyone with their spending, so why not enjoy it. You could argue they had no choice but to get Price signed, but how long has it been since this club followed the crowd into fiscal irresponsibility?
No, this was a banner week for the Rays. Maybe the best week of the year. For, in one signed deal, the Rays spent at least $8.5-million to buy a good deal of faith and potentially a pocketful of victories.
- Not surprising, Joe Maddon will have a tighter leash on James Shields and Scott Kazmir for the remainder of the season.
Kazmir and Shields might be pulled early because the organization wants to make sure they don’t exceed organizational season pitch limits, which Maddon said might lead to skipping starts as the season winds down.
Generally speaking, Maddon said, the Rays wouldn’t want someone to exceed more than 20 percent of the pitches he threw the season before.
- After Devil Rays acquired Dan Wheeler before the trading deadline, there was speculation that they may try to spin him off in another deal. Nothing happened before the non-waiver deadline, but the Rays may have attempted to trade Wheeler since then. The Rays tried placed Wheeler on waivers. He was claimed by at least one team and the Rays then pulled him back off of waivers. If he had cleared waivers, he would have been eligible to be traded. [ESPN]