He was the first major free-agent signing in the Theo Epstein era, someone who wasn’t just brought in as a stop-gap. He’s here for the long haul, supposedly to help lead the Cubs into a winning era, if not this year then very soon.
“It’s been a pretty disappointing month from my standpoint -- to myself, to the teammates, to the organization and to the fans, but it’s a test of character,” Jackson said after getting pounded for eight runs in a 13-7 loss to the San Diego Padres on Tuesday. “It’s one of those times where you can crumble and fold or fight and bounce back. And I definitely have not been one to be known to fold.”
It’s good he has some fight in him because he’ll need it in order to lower his 6.27 ERA from his first month as a Cub. He’s 0-4 and just about everything has gone wrong. Tuesday was his worst outing, he lasted just 4.2 innings while giving up 11 hits as the Padres used him for batting practice.
“Fastball location just wasn’t there today,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “A lot of pitches were middle-middle. Didn’t make a lot of quality pitches when he had to. Have to keep plugging away with him.”
The bigger picture has to do with Epstein. The signing of Jackson to a four-year, $52 million deal reflects on his regime. At the time he said Jackson was worth it as the market for pitchers is thinning more and more and Jackson is an innings eater. Just not on Tuesday or for most of the month of April.
“It might be one of the worst starts in my career,” Jackson said. “I’m sure it will be safe to say that. I haven’t lost any confidence, I don’t doubt myself. I just have to go out and get it done.”
And there’s really no one place to start with him. His hits and walks to innings pitched is a bloated 1.61, that’s being wild and throwing BP. But Jackson isn’t giving in.
“I don’t feel like I’ve helped the team but it’s a long season,” he said. “I don’t feel like its pressure, I’m just not pitching the way I know I can pitch. It’s not one particular thing.”
He walked off the mound in the fifth inning to boos, so it’s not going to get any easier heading into May. Jackson hasn’t built up any credibility with his new fan base so he’ll have to start from scratch.
“I would have probably booed myself as well,” he said.