Washington Nationals: Edwin Jackson continues to shine in rotation

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HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 23: Edwin Jackson #40 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 23, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 23: Edwin Jackson #40 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 23, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Despite getting the hard luck loss last night, Edwin Jackson continues to shine in the Washington Nationals rotation

When the Washington Nationals called up Edwin Jackson last month, nobody knew what to expect from the veteran right-hander who has pitched for 12 different teams. One month in, Jackson has exceeded anyone’s expectations and has gone from fifth starter to potential playoff roster candidate.

Despite getting the loss last night, Jackson handled himself well against a good Houston Astros lineup. He went six innings, gave up two runs on six hits, struck out one, and walked three on 95 pitches (58 strikes). The only mistake he made was a hanging breaking ball to Jake Marisnick that he hit over the wall in left center.

Out of the seven starts that Jackson has made with the Nats, five of those outings have come against teams that will be in the postseason or are in playoff contention. He has gone up against formidable lineups and has held his own for the most part outside of a bad outing against the Brewers and a rough first inning against the Cubs.

If there’s one concern to have about Jackson, it’s the amount of flyballs teams hit against him. In four of his seven starts, teams have hit over 12 flyballs and that’s usually not a recipe for success. However, there is one pitch he has used more this year compared to recent years.

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According to Fangraphs, Jackson has used his changeup almost six percent of the time. You have to go back to 2012 to find a year where he threw that pitch as often (eight percent with the Washington Nationals). Right now, teams are hitting .200 against that pitch (courtesy of Brooks Baseball).

The Washington Nationals clearly have their top four rotation guys set for the playoffs, barring an injury. So, where does that leave Jackson? There’s a chance you could see him as the emergency pitcher if any of the starters run into trouble.

At the same time, Jackson’s postseason track record isn’t exactly the greatest. Back in 2012, he gave up five runs on nine hits in six innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. One of those runs came out of the bullpen in the Game 5 collapse, but that shouldn’t be held against him when it comes to this year.

If Jackson continues to pitch well down the stretch, don’t be surprised if Baker rewards him with a postseason roster spot. At least, the Washington Nationals would have experience there compared to last year when they used Reynaldo Lopez in that spot for Joe Ross in Game 4.

Next: Romero's role in bullpen a question mark

In a year where Mike Rizzo has found many different surprises to fill out the roster, Jackson has arguably been the best for a team that needed rotation depth in the worst way.

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