There's no sugarcoating it: Edwin Jackson was not very good in his first year with the Chicago Cubs. One doesn't need to look too far into the numbers to be completely aware of that fact. The Cubs shocked a lot of folks when they signed Jackson to a four-year, $52 million contract last winter of despite the fact that they appeared to still have a long way to go in the rebuild in which they still currently find themselves. They did it, though, and gave a pitcher that was the definition of a journeyman a permanent home.
Jackson never really found his footing with the Cubs in Year One. He didn't have any health related issues, which has been the case throughout his incredibly durable career, but he only experienced one month where he was actually able to put it together and looked like he might be coming out of what was a lengthy slump. At the same time, though, while 2013 certainly wasn't his best, it's hard to put it all on him and a deeper look at the numbers indicates that a rebound could be in store for him in the upcoming season.
The 2013 season saw Edwin Jackson post a 4.98 ERA which was his highest mark since the 2007 season. However, taking defense out of the equation, his xFIP saw that number drop all the way down to 3.86. His WHIP for the season fell right about in line with what his career averages would indicate it should have been at 1.44.
It was the month of July that saw Jackson find the most success in his first year with the North Siders. His ERA for the month was just 1.83 and opponents hit just .194 off of him, compared to .296 in each of the other months of the season. His walk rate that month was extremely low, at just 4.6% and his WHIP was a thoroughly impressive 0.87. While no one is expecting those numbers for a full season from anyone whose name isn't Clayton Kershaw, we should expect to see more of that type of stuff from Jackson in 2014 on a more regular basis.
In 2013, he really didn't do anything differently than we're used to seeing from him. He's not a top of the rotation type. He's a mid-rotation guy through and through. A steady vet. He leaned on his fastball just a touch more, and got away from his changeup almost completely, though the latter was never a heavily utilized pitch for him. His walks weren't anything unusual, and while his strikeout numbers were down a bit, he's never been a guy to rely heavily on punching guys out.
While Jackson didn't have his best season in 2013, anyway you look at it, it should certainly be taken into account that this was a guy who experienced a great deal of bad luck in his first year with the Chicago Cubs. With another year working with pitching coach Chris Bosio and an improved defense behind him, rebounding shouldn't be an issue for the veteran starter in 2014.
All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.