Edwin Jackson signed with Baltimore in early April, started at Triple-A in the Orioles’ organization, and then worked his way up for three appearances out of the O’s bullpen in June, but the 33-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment after that.
He opted for free agency, and signed a minor league deal with the Nationals, reporting to Triple-A Syracuse in Washington’s system.
Over 20 1⁄3 innings with the Nats’ top minor league affiliate, Jackson was (2-0) with a 0.44 ERA (1 ER), 10 walks, 22 Ks, and a .130 BAA before he was called up to start in LA last week, during the two-game set with the Angels.
“We had scouted him as he was playing in the minor leagues with a couple other organizations,” Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN’s The Sports Junkies last Wednesday, after Jackson started in Angel Stadium.
“We saw this guy perform for us in Triple-A and he forced us to bring him to the big leagues by his performance,” Rizzo said.
In his first start in the majors this season, Jackson went seven innings, giving up three hits and two runs in what ended up a 4-3 win.
“We saw a guy go out there that’s in terrific condition, physically fit, and threw the ball extremely well,” Rizzo said. “Stuff has never been a problem for Edwin Jackson.”
Walks were, however, a problem for the now 33-year-old, 15-year veteran, who’s averaged 3.62 BB/9 over the course of his career.
“My biggest thing has always been walks, walks, walks, walks, walks,” Jackson himself acknowledged after the start in LA, in which he avoided walking anyone.
“Behind in the count and walks, and then you get a big hit, and I’ve just been trying to focus on coming out and putting an attack on hitters and making them put the ball in play.”
Jackson issued back-to-back, two-out walks in the opening frame of Tuesday night’s game with the Milwaukee Brewers, but caught Eric Thames looking at a 95 mph 2-2 fastball in under the hands for out No. 3 of a scoreless first.
The first of back-to-back singles in the second came around to score when Manny Pina sent a fly to center to start the inning, moved up on a Brett Phillips grounder to right, and scored from third one out later on a sac bunt by Zach Davies when Jackson threw late to the plate, 1-0.
Jackson issued his third walk of the game to Travis Shaw in the first at bat of the third, but stranded the Brewers’ first baseman.
Shaw got hold of a 93 mph 1-2 fastball from Jackson in the fourth, however, and hit a three-run blast to left-center to put the Brewers up 5-0 after a run scored earlier in the inning on an infield single by Ryan Braun.
Jackson was up to 96 pitches overall after a 27-pitch fourth. He came back out for the fifth, and gave up a towering blast by Eric Thames on a 1-1 slider that bounced off the facade of the third deck in right. Manny Pina hit Jackson’s 104th pitch, a 3-1 fastball, out to right, 7-0.
• Edwin Jackson’s Line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 Ks, 3 HRs, 112 P, 69 S, 6/6 GO/FO.
“His pitch count got up high,” Dusty Baker said, after what ended up an 8-0 loss to the Brewers “and he didn’t have the command that he had last time. He was wild high and away.
“It was a rough night for Edwin tonight, Baker added.
“He didn’t have his command tonight.”
Luckily for the Nationals, Oliver Perez and Joe Blanton came on for four innings of work after Jackson was done, with Perez throwing two scoreless, and Blanton giving up a run on four hits in his own two innings on the mound, so the rest of the bullpen was spared what could have been a long night.
“We were hoping that [Jackson] could get into the fifth,” Baker said, “because we only had really kind of one long man in [Matt] Albers, and didn’t want to really use him in that situation. We were hoping he’d get through the fifth, which he did, and we saved the majority of our bullpen, so that was a positive tonight.”
In spit of his struggles in the loss, Jackson will get another opportunity to start next time his turn in the rotation comes around.
“He’s not on a pitch-by-pitch, performance-type thing,” Baker said. “That can happen to anybody. So, sure, I don’t see why not.”