Friday, April 11, 2008

Rising Star Edwin Jackson

Remember that tall lanky kid that came around our parts with a golden arm. He was a shy guy who everyone believed had the ability to blow people away.

When Edwin Jackson came up with the Dodgers during the 2003 season many worried that he was being rushed. We ran the risk of hurting his fragile nature by throwing him at the wolves. After all, he was just 19 years old. How would he react to the daily grind of being a highly touted major league starting pitcher?

As many of you remember, he started out with a bang. His first major league game was against future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks. By the way, that game was on his 20th birthday. He won that game handily by going a solid 6 innings. He showed poise and consistency that made us all wonder, "do we have a bonafide number 1 pitcher here?" He finished the season strong going 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 4 starts. Not too bad for the rookie. Next year was going to be interesting.

Unfortunately, this is where the story takes a detour. He began the 2004 and 2005 season in the minor leagues with the expectation of a late season call-up. Each time he came back to the big show he looked worse and worse. He had lost his confidence. He had lost his stuff. His respective ERA's those two seasons were 7.30 and 6.28. Management had lost all confidence that they could get him back on the right track.

As time wore on it became obvious that something went wrong and the only solution was to cut bait. Edwin Jackson, our future starting ace, was traded for a couple of scraps- Danys Baez and Lance Carter in 2006. He soon became a reliever for Tampa Bay, but resumed starting for them in 2007. In that year he got shelled in what many may call an important learning experience. Jackson began the year going 1-9 with a 7.23 ERA, but
rebounded somewhat after the all-star break, posting a 4-6 record and a 4.48 ERA over 15 games.
Maybe he was starting to figure it out. Maybe the damage done to his confidence in LA was disappearing. Maybe he can regain his status as a "can't miss" prospect.

This season, 2008, Edwin Jackson is showing signs that he is coming into his own. In 2 starts this season he is 2 and 0 with a minuscule 0.64 ERA and his stuff has been filthy. The young kid who grew up in Dodger Blue may be turning into a monster of a man on the mound for the Devil Rays. He may very well be turning into that ace pitcher we all dreamed about. Only time will tell, of course, but I'm pulling for him.

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