Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Did Edwin pitch himself out of the rotation?

The Rays recently called up Jason Hammel to replace demoted Chad Orvella in the bullpen, but Edwin Jackson might have just made a case for Hammel to move to the rotation. The Rays have already retooled the back end of the rotation with two starters from Durham, Sonnanstine and Howell, and with the way Hammel pitched in a 7 inning relief of Edwin tonight, Edwin's job may be in jeopardy. Joe Maddon had to pull Jackson in the first inning after he gave up fives runs and had only managed to get one out. Hammel came in to relieve Jackson and pitched 7 strong innings giving up three runs on six hits while striking out eight.
Jackson had to be thinking in the back of his mind before this start that he needed to look good. The Rays have been making some moves recently and have said that they will not settle for mediocrity anymore. The rotation and bullpen have been altered for the better so far and Jackson has looked very unimpressive. Although Hammel was called up to pitch out of the Bullpen, he is a starter and with the success of the Durham starters that have been called up so far i am sure Jackson was not comfortable. Jackson should have used this pressure to show his stuff, but it looks like he fell flat on his face.
Jackson poses quite a dilemma for the Rays because he is out of options. What Jackson really needs is more time to pitch and that should be in Durham. Jackson should be getting the work he needs and innings he needs to be successful in Durham, but he can't because he would have to pass waivers to go to Durham and that won't happen. Last year Jackson proved he was not a great option in the bullpen as he is a slow starter and gets stronger as the game goes on. Also, Jackson just needs innings as a pitcher to get it all down. Jackson was converted into a pitcher by the Dodgers after drafting him and was rushed up to the big leagues without getting the seasoning he needed. What Jackson really needs is time to pitch and learn to harness his talent, but the Rays and fans are growing restless.
The Rays ownership and fans can look to a similar situation for hope though. In 2003 the Detroit Tigers were one of the worst teams ever in baseball and there starting pitching was not very good. In 2003 Mike Maroth lost over 20 games and Jeremy Bonderman lost 19 games. Both of the starters had a mid to high five era and did not look good on the mound, but the Tigers kept running them out there. People said they were ruing their pitchers, or they just commented that these pitchers were never going to be good. Now, four years later, Bonderman anchors one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, which includes Mike Maroth. These guys learned how to use there talent and learned to pitch at the big league level and maybe that's what Jackson has to do. Jackson has the talent he just needs to figure out how to use it, but will they give him that time?
Although similar to the Tigers situation, Jackson's and the Rays situation is a bit different. When Bonderman and Maroth were in the rotation the Tigers were horrible, but the Rays have been making a push and the better they get the worse Jackson looks right now. Also, the fans in Detroit did not expect more out of them, but the Rays fans see a glimmer of hope and when Jackson gets on the mound it seems to disappear. Finally, Maroth and Bonderman did not have some young pitcher who could come in and pitch better than them, but Jackson has multiple guys behind him that could take his spot. Jackson has talent, but do we have enough patience to wait for him to finally show it?

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