Edwin Jackson’s New Slider

Edwin Jackson’s prospect status has always attracted a claque yet his performance through 2008 hardly warranted the hype. A lively arm capable of touching the upper-90s with a blazing fastball and a whip like slider seemed destined for major league stardom, even more so after his debut, outpitching Randy Johnson – which should be a warning to anyone who takes the first “x” amount of games or innings as a predictor of future performances. Pitching coach after pitching coach tried to solve the Jackson enigma without much success. As blessed as his right arm was, he would go throw lapses where walks were plentiful and strikeouts, not so much.

Naturally, it’s a bit odd to glance at Jackson’s stat line and see a 3.51 FIP to go along with 7 strikeouts and 2.2 walks per nine. That’s not what we’ve come to expect from Edwin Jackson at all. So what’s changed?

Jackson’s BABIP is lower than it should be, but that has little bearing on his FIP, his HR/FB% is down despite his FB% being up, that’s something to watch for, Jackson’s getting slightly more first pitch strikes and a bucket load more of hitters chasing him outside of the zone. Why?

As it turns out, Jackson’s slider has experienced a metamorphosis in his short time spent in Detroit. Velocity has remained the same as the break has shifted. No longer is Jackson’s slider sweeping towards lefties, instead the break is far more subtle, and perhaps far more deceptive. Rather than breaking ~2 inches, it’s breaking 1, and the vertical movement is ‘down’ about an inch as well.

Whether Jackson has gained control over the pitch with this change – whatever the change may be, it’s the only one in his arsenal, because he’s no longer throwing his change-up very often – or simply a deceptive trick, it bears resemblance to another slider on the Tigers staff, Armando Galarraga. Whether this is a Galarraga hand-me-down or a Rick Knapp lesson, it seems to be working. We’ll see if it continues.

We hoped you liked reading Edwin Jackson’s New Slider by R.J. Anderson!

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Trenchtown
Guest
Trenchtown

Yeah his FB% is up but so is his Infield fly % so I don’t know if that is the thing to look at and be that worried about. The thing I see as a possible problem is the dive in LD% and whether that is sustainable. But you definitely have to be encouraged by the bump in swing strike %. It is definitely hard to fail with that kind of fastball speed

Joe
Guest
Joe

Trenchtown-

I agree that his IFFB% could be an issue. Has he really taken a step forward, or are his numbers masked by a IFFB% twice his career rate?

Also, pitching as a starter with essentially two pitches seems like a recipe for short outings and limited success, unless his WHIFF rates are incredible-anyone have this data?

Anyone have anything to add?

Trenchtown
Guest
Trenchtown

His swinging strike percentage is 10.8% up from 7.7% last year which is a pretty significant jump