Originally posted on The Nats Blog old  |  Last updated 5/30/12
When people talk about the Washington Nationals’ outstanding pitching rotation, they immediately mention Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg, and with good reason. Gonzalez has been the best pitcher in the NL this season, and Strasburg continuously regarded as the best young pitcher in baseball. Even Jordan Zimmermann is mentioned before the guy that is having an unbelievably underrated year: Edwin Jackson. When Mike Rizzo signed Jackson to an $11 million deal, it confounded some. That’s a whole lot of money for a player who’s been with six different teams in the last five years. When you see that he has a 4.00 ERA and a 1.367 WHIP in those same five years, the decision gets murkier, but it looks like Jackson might have finally realized his own potential. Jackson was always a highly rated player capable of high strikeouts, but with strikeouts came a lot of walks. Like most good pitching coaches, Steve McCatty saw something and thought he could fix it. Jackson’s career 3.7 BB/9 through 2011 shows his wild side, but his 2.1 BB/9 this season almost halves his career level. His H/9 (7.2) is at its lowest mark since his first year where he made four appearances, and his 3.53 SO/BB ratio is the best of his career. Jackson’s 7.3 K/9 is above his career average, and he has the eighth-highest swinging strikes percentage in baseball at 11.5%. He’s tied for the tenth-highest WAR among pitchers in baseball, higher than Jordan Zimmermann. His company at 1.3 WAR includes Josh Johnson, CC Sabathia, David Price, and Wandy Rodriguez. He’s been strike-efficient while keeping the walks down. His ERA, FIP, and XFIP numbers are extremely close, 3.17, 3.31, 3.72 respectively, and all are below league averages. So he's not getting lucky, he's just been that good. He has a complete game two-hitter this season and has failed to make it into the sixth inning only three times in ten starts while he’s broken the 100 pitch count just once. He’s been almost insanely efficient. Yet, no one talks about Jackson, and at one point, people were even lobbying for him to make the trip to the bullpen to make way for Chien-Ming Wang. Well now Wang is in the rotation instead of Ross Detwiler, and no one should be able to knock Jackson in good conscience any more. He hasn’t had a lot of luck in the win column, and the Nats have won just two of his ten starts. But if Jackson keeps pitching the way he has been, combined with his track record of pitching about 200 innings each season, he’ll be an integral part of this team down the home stretch. It’s time to start giving him his due credit.
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