Averaging 93.5 mph, Jackson’s four-seamer was used 38.8% of the time in 2019 and finished with a -11.3 pVal—his worst mark since it had a -21.3 pVal. Mostly straight, the heater gets below average break on both planes, finishing with an 11.7 barrel-rate against it and a .310 batting average.
Averaging around 86 mph, Jackson threw his slider 26% of the time in 2019, with the pitch finishing with a 26.9% K-rate, the highest of any pitch he threw. Getting average depth and below-average break, the slider was only barreled at a 7.9% rate and finished with a .289 BA and .578 SLG against it.
Edwin Jackson threw his changeup 7.5% of the time in 2019, with the pitch finishing with a -2.1 pVal—his lowest mark with the pitch since 2013. Batters carried a .310 BA and a .750 SLG against it, with the pitch getting below-average drop but 16% more break than the major league average.
His main offering in 2019, Jackson’s cutter was utilized 27.4% of the time, with batters teeing off it to a tune of a .423 BA, .784 SLG, with a 13.3% barrel-rate. Jackson threw the pitch 26.5% of the time in 2018 and finished with a 5.7 pVal—the highest mark of his career. In 2019, it jumped to a -12.6 pVal—the worst of his career, by a wide margin.
Jackson only threw his curveball 41 times in 2019, with a vast majority being used against left-handed batters. The pitch garnered a .400 batting average against it, with a .600 SLG and .422 wOBA. Getting 35% less break than the average curve in 2019, had a 0.0% K-rate and had a 6.92 xFIP. This is not the pitch you are looking for.
A pitch Jackson introduced in 2018, it made an immediate impression as by far Jackson’s best offering, largely replacing a four-seamer that had seen little success of late. Supported by an impressive spin rate and good velocity, Jackson drew a lot of ground balls with the pitch, which hitters managed just a .198 average against. Though a 5.32 ERA from 2013 to 2017 seemed to indicate that Jackson’s final hour was quickly approaching, utilizing this cutter even more in 2019 will do wonders for extending the career of the former All-Star.
Jackson has largely relied on the slider across his career, considering how awful his four-seamer has been. And while it’s seen a decline in effectiveness over the past few years, the introduction of a far better primary offering in his cut fastball allowed the slider to work far more effectively than it has been. While velocity is dipping, a career-best spin rate contributed to the pitch nabbing the highest K% it’s had in six years. While a SwStr% in line with his career averages would seem to indicate that the K% will likely regress, more usage of the cutter can only mean good things for Jackson’s slider going forward.
With a -50.1 pVal from 2013 to 2017, this is a bad pitch. It always has been, and Jackson finally seemed to realize it, largely replacing the pitch with a far, far more effective cutter. In its defense, the four-seamer did get some of the best results in 2018 that it ever has. xStats and an atrocious 18.8 BB% indicate that this is the same ugly pitch that has haunted Jackson. The less we see this pitch in 2019, the better.
This pitch is bad, was bad, and shows no signs of getting better. For reference, batters haven’t hit less than .325 against the pitch since 2014, and Jackson has allowed a batting average below .270 on the pitch just three times in 11 seasons. Jackson threw it 8% less in 2018 than he did in 2017, and we can only hope that trend continues going forward.
Going the opposite way of his curveball, Jackson had started to throw the changeup less and less for a few years before bumping its usage back up in 2018, to great results: a .095 batting average against and .125 xBA are both incredible. Jackson largely uses this pitch as a lefty killer, throwing almost 11 times as many to left-handed hitters as he did to right-handed hitters in 2018. Based on the results he got, that seems like a smart plan going forward.
While the curve has never been a pitch Jackson has extensively utilized, it reached a career low in usage in 2018. The curve has always been a middling pitch for him whenever thrown, and 2018 was more of the same on that front. An impressive 2514 RPM spin rate is interesting, but we saw little else in 2018 to indicate that the curveball will be anything more than a mix-it-up type pitch.