Edwin Jackson’s job in jeopardy after another poor start
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter August 14, 2014 9:50PM
Updated: August 15, 2014 12:09AM
Jon Lester? Max Scherzer? The return of Jason Hammel?
It all might sound like a nice little to-do list for the Cubs’ front office this winter as it makes its “aggressive” push toward better pitching.
But six weeks remain this season, and the Cubs have no shortage of in-house starting-pitching issues to sort out long before they get to the offseason. Some were on display during the 6-2 loss Thursday to the Milwaukee Brewers that closed out a 3-4 homestand.
Edwin Jackson — 56 starts into a four-year, $52 million deal — struggled again and has been the worst performer on the staff since 2013 (14-31, 5.31 ERA).
With news that recently acquired right-hander Dan Straily is being recalled from Class AAA Iowa to make a spot start Saturday in New York and with a seven-up, seven-down Cubs debut for more recently acquired Jacob Turner, Jackson’s hold on his starting job looked more tenuous than it has all year.
Could he lose starts down the stretch as the Cubs try to get looks at some of their new pitchers, including another recent acquisition, rehabbing Felix Doubront?
“Not necessarily,” manager Rick Renteria said.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the highest-paid guy on the team who has 18 non-quality starts to show for 25 outings in ’14.
“The organization [has] chances to look at some guys, and they’re going to make the moves they want to make,” Jackson (6-13) said. “At this point, you just have to try to worry about things you can control.”
For now, the Cubs say Straily’s start is at least in part about a stretch of 21 games in 21 days and giving the five rotation guys an extra day of rest.
But Turner’s “promising” outing in relief of Jackson suggests the clock is running to create another opening in the rotation for at least a look or two, and possibly before the rain-created doubleheader in St. Louis at the end of the month.
“I imagine that as we move forward, the intent will be to stretch him out,” Renteria said.
Turner, the ninth overall pick in the 2009 draft who started for the Marlins as recently as July 27, said he could start again now.
“Just being able to get back out there and get that feel back is good,” said Turner, whose fastball reached 93 mph.
“I know the type of pitcher I am. I know the type of pitcher that I can be. It’s just a matter of consistency.”
The same could be said of Jackson, a former All-Star who once threw a no-hitter.
He gave up two runs in the first after two quick outs, eventually snapped the Cubs’ streak of seven quality starts and said one of the problems was thinking too “mechanically” instead of finding a comfort zone.
“I kind of felt like I was a robot, trying to find this, trying to find that,” Jackson said.
But even through all the struggles — and with all the changes coming around him on the starting staff — he said he hasn’t lost confidence.
“At this level, you can’t afford to get down,” he said. “Obviously, you’re disappointed. Clearly, you don’t like the way you’ve pitched. And clearly, I know I’m a way better pitcher than I’ve been showing.
“We can sit here and talk about it all day, but you still have to go out on the field and prove it. But as far as confidence, I haven’t lost any.
‘‘I don’t walk around with my head down, and I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me. You’re a professional athlete. You’re not going to feel sorry for yourself, and you don’t want anybody else feeling sorry for you. It’s just a matter of continuing to battle.”