Since arriving on the North Side, Carl Edwards Jr. has featured all the tools needed to be a dominant pitcher. Despite this, he is yet to reach his potential.
What we saw in the final month of the season from Edwards was nothing short of a complete meltdown. The right-hander’s issues all started due to his lack of control on the mound. Simply put, the guy couldn’t throw strikes to save his life.
In the month of September, Edwards made 11 relief appearances and in 10 of those games, the reliever issued at least one free pass. In fact, throughout the entire month, the right-hander only threw one clean inning, meaning he faced just three batters. That came against the Cincinnati Reds on Sept. 16.
Edwards ended up walking a total of 12 batters which equaled a 15.43 BB/9 ratio for the final month of the season. To put it in some perspective, Edwards issued just 13 free passes for the entire first half of the season. That’s how wild he was in September.
Yet, game after game, Joe Maddon insisted on continuing to bring Edwards out of the bullpen in order to try to get him right in time for the playoffs. It did not work. He flat-out could not be trusted to get big outs and should not have been in those games down the stretch amidst a tight division race.
Edwards ultimately pitched just seven total innings down the stretch to the tune of a 5.14 ERA. The right-hander was constantly working around traffic on the base paths as he also allowed a sky-high on-base percentage of .474.
Edwards’ struggles were not limited to just September
Edwards’ performance down the stretch really stood out and left a bad taste in my mouth going into the offseason. In my opinion, that performance really overshadows the fact that Edwards actually struggled for much of the season.
The reliever did post a career-low 2.60 ERA but he did so in limited action. Due to injuries, Edwards appeared in just 58 games and pitched 52 total innings. A season ago he made 73 appearances and posted 66 1/3 innings, both career-highs.
What worries me moving forward is obviously his walk rate but more so even his strikeout rate. While he’s only been with the Cubs for four seasons, his K/9 rate of 11.60 this season is a career-low. Back in 2016, his strikeout per nine rate was up to 13.00. This could mean hitters have started to figure him out or he’s just not blowing hitters away anymore.
Of course, there is also his walk rate per nine innings as that is also a career-high. He posted a 5.54 BB/9 compared to his career-low 3.50 back in 2016. It’s safe to say he has surely lost his control over the last two seasons.
Like I said previously, Edwards has always been a talented pitcher, there is no question about that. He clearly has some issues he needs to correct in the offseason, but if he does, there is no reason he can’t be an elite arm out of the bullpen for the Cubs in 2019.