Blue Jays: Battle of the Veterans, Marco Estrada opposes Edwin Jackson

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 13: Edwin Jackson #37 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at AT&T Park on July 13, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 13: Edwin Jackson #37 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at AT&T Park on July 13, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /

On Monday, July 30, the Blue Jays will open a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics. The Blue Jays will start Marco Estrada while the A’s will counter with their own veteran, Edwin Jackson.

While Sunday’s contest was the battle of the youngsters, Monday’s game is a battle of the veterans. Edwin Jackson has played parts of 16 seasons in the major leagues. Even more amazingly, across this time he has played for 13 teams. Other than Oakland, he has played for the Dodgers, Rays, Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Cardinals, Nationals (twice), Cubs, Braves, Marlins, Padres, and Orioles.

Despite maintaining a journeyman status, the righty has kept a steady resolve through it all. In an excellent piece by Danny Knobler at Bleacher Report, the veteran explained that, despite all the trials and tribulations of his career, he remembers that he is still living out his and many other people’s dream.

At just 20 years of age, the right-hander made his major league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In just three starts in his first season, he posted a 2.45 ERA and 4.12 FIP. However, he would never return to an ERA below three—and rarely below four.

However, while he has never managed back-to-back consistent seasons, he has completed one of the most improbable no-hitters. The righty used 149 pitches to complete his no-no. In his nine-inning marathon he struck out six, hit a batter, and allowed eights walks —but he never gave up a hit.

As if he needed any more reason to be the most interesting man in baseball, the right-hander is a native of Ulm, Germany. For those unfamiliar, Ulm is the birthplace of little-known intellectual, Albert Einstein.

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Jackson made his way to the Athletics in a fittingly unconventional manner. After signing a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals, he exercised an opt-out clause mid-way through this season. The A’s picked up the 34-year-old on a $1.5MM minor league pact.

Despite beginning on a minor league deal, the veteran has impressed in the majors. Through six starts this season, he has managed a 3.86 ERA, 4.42 FIP, 1.086 WHIP, and 107 ERA+. In total, he has been worth a decent 0.4 fWAR.

The righty is not short on pitch offerings for opposing batters. Altogether, he will offer up a cutter, slider, sinker, four-seam fastball, change-up, and curveball.

Jackson has thrown his cut-fastball 33.03% of the time this season. The cutter is pretty quick, averaging a velocity of 91.87 mph. However, the pitch has not been effective, giving up a poor .278 BAA and .500 SLGA—including two home runs.

The former Dodger has thrown sliders 21.65% of the time this season. The breaking ball has resulted in a fair amount of swing and miss—producing whiffs on 29.73% of swings. Also, the pitch has been responsible for 17 strikeouts and no walks. Finally, it has allowed a paltry .205 BAA.

The Athletics hurler has fired home sinkers 18.3% of the time this season. The sinking fastball is just a little bit faster than the cutter, averaging a velocity of 93.04 mph. The pitch has allowed just five hits this year—but one left the ballpark.

Jackson has straightened up batters with a four-seam fastball 15.96% of the time this season. The heater is decently quick, averaging a velocity of 94.16 mph. As well, the four-seamer has been very effective, allowing a paltry .150 BAA. All three hits against the pitch have gone for extra bases, though.

The right-hander completes his pitching repertoire with change-ups and curveballs. The change and hook have been thrown 8.26% and 2.75% of the time, respectively. The change has allowed just one walk and no hits. The breaking ball has given up one double in very limited usage.

It’s hard to cheer against a player with Jackson’s history, but his FIP is somewhat of a cause for concern. With just six starts under his belt this year, there is a good chance that his ERA will start to climb over four, closer to his 4.42 FIP. However, his 13.2% HR/FB rate suggests some negative regression in the number of home runs he allows.

The righty has posted pedestrian strikeout and walk numbers this year. For the Athletics, he has managed a 19% K-rate and 6.94 K/9. Also, he has managed an above average walk total, giving up a 7% BB-rate and 2.57 BB/9.

The Blue Jays have done quite well against the A’s hurler in the past. Curtis Granderson has five hits and five walks in 16 at-bats—including a double, triple, and home run. Also, newly acquired Brandon Drury has gone two-for-three with a double against the righty. Not all Blue Jays hitters have done well, though, as Russell Martin has just three hits in 20 at-bats and Yangervis Solarte has one knock in six.

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The Blue Jays will play against one of the most seasoned veterans in the majors on Monday night. Toronto will need to create some offence off of the opposing starter, though, since Estrada has admitted that he is not yet at one hundred percent.