Edwin Jackson has made four stats for the Cardinals. Given that he was acquired on 27 July, and started his first game for his new club two days later, he will make at most 11 starts for St Louis in 2011. Having already started a third of those, how do his numbers compare to his career norms?
First, his career numbers in some selected categories: 4.53 ERA, 1.483 WHIP, 1.81 strikeout-to-walk (SO/BB) ratio, 4.39 xFIP. While with the Chicago White Sox earlier this season, he posted better-than-his-career-norm numbers in ERA (3.92), WHIP (1.422), SO/BB (2.49), and xFIP (3.48). Since joining the Cardinals, however, he appears to have regressed (4.62, 1.697, 2.00, 4.00). Is that a fair assessment?
Actually, no it is not. Jackson was left on the mound to take a beating at Milwaukee’s hands on 3 August, because the bullpen had been completely expended the previous night in an extra inning win. Jackson went seven innings and allowed 10 runs (8 earned) that night. His other 3 starts? Five earned runs total in 18.1 innings pitched (ERA: 2.45). That first August game accounts for 61% of the earned runs he has allowed since the trade. Looking solely at the same categories as above, and removing that 3 August start, his ERA lowers to the aforementioned 2.45, his WHIP to 1.581, his xFIP to 1.64, and his SO/BB ratio rises to 1.43. Those are much better numbers. His WHIP is still high, but his WHIP has always been high. Jackson’s SO/BB ratio is below his career norm, but will likely continue to improve. His ERA and xFIP are sterling.
Edwin Jackson has pitched very well so far in his time with the Cardinals, and he’s also done the consummate teammate thing and ‘taken one for the team’. He has been a fine pick-up.
Many of us, this writer included, believe the Cardinals gave up too much to get him. For the record, through Wednesday’s games Colby Rasmus had a .225/.243/.394 slash line, not far different from the .226/.342/.420 line he posted with the Cardinals this season. It clearly is too early to accurately evaluate that trade, and a couple of seasons will have to pass before it can be done objectively. In the near term, St Louis acquired Edwin Jackson for 11 starts in 2011 so he could solidify the back end of their rotation and help propel them into the post-season. Through the first third of those starts, he has pitched better than reasonable people could have expected.
Jackson’s next start is Saturday at Wrigley, against former teammate Matt Garza. Hopefully the hamstring tightness that forced him from his last start is completely gone, allowing him to continue pitching very effectively.
Mike Metzger is a San Diego Padres blogger and life-long Cardinal fan.