Edwin Jackson’s overall season statistics won’t blow you away. He’s 8-9 with a 3.53 ERA over 158 innings of work.
That’s pretty solid, especially for a team’s fourth starter, but not spectacular.
Jackson has had a few outings this season, however, in which he shows how special a pitcher he can be. Tonight was one of those outings, one of the times when Jackson reminds the baseball world that the Nationals’ starting staff as a whole is pretty darn good, and it will remain that way, even once Stephen Strasburg is eventually shut down.
“People keep talking about Stras (getting shut down),” Jayson Werth said. “Edwin Jackson is a heck of a pitcher. ... He’s a big-game pitcher. He won big games last year late in the year, in the postseason.
“Take Stras out and put Edwin in. I like it.”
The guys in the outfield liked what they saw from Jackson tonight. The guy behind the plate did, too.
“He was amazing,” catcher Jesus Flores said. “He threw the ball very good tonight. We know the St. Louis Cardinals have good hitters, but tonight he was on it.
“I think it helped (that Jackson knew the Cardinals’ hitters). He had a lot of confidence in what he was doing out there. We really talked about every hitter before the game. And he executed everything he said.”
Jackson downplayed his outing, saying he merely executed his gameplan and benefited from plenty of run support. He also downplayed the fact that he had seven strikeouts through three innings and put up 10 for the night, his second double-digit strikeout outing of the season.
“I just knew I was getting outs. That’s the objective,” Jackson said. “Get outs. I try not to get caught up in strikeouts just because it takes away from pitching, but if it’s a situation where I really need a strikeout, then I’ll definitely go for it. But tonight, just pitching to contact.”
Jackson’s now registered 29 strikeouts over his last three starts. Is it reasonable to suggest that his stuff has gotten sharper as the season has gone on?
“I agree,” Flores said. “And I think the way we’ve been working out together and talking a lot, the gameplan, he really throws whatever I put down and I really trust him whenever he wants to throw any other pitch. I think that’s a big thing to do, a big part of the game.”
Werth connected on a solo home run in the fifth tonight, his first longball since coming back from a broken wrist. Given the severity of the injury, tonight’s homer was a milestone of sorts for the veteran outfielder.
“The strength was the big thing,” Werth said. “Immobilized for that long, you lose a lot of strength. I still feel like I haven’t gained it all back yet, but I went to the lighter bat, but again, my swing’s been good since coming off the rehab and I like where I’m at. You know, it’s not always about hitting homers. I think those will come. That’s just a matter of being in good position and getting a good pitch. So, don’t want to change too much right now, hitting homers, doubles, whatever. I just want to get on base. Hitting at the top of the order in a lineup as potent as this one, it’s all about getting on base and scoring runs.”
Bryce Harper also added a home run, and over his last two games, he’s 4-for-10 with three homers and six RBIs. Manager Davey Johnson suggested that Harper’s lower half has been quieter lately, allowing his swing to be quicker, smoother and more natural.
“I felt good. I’ve been feeling good for the past couple weeks,” Harper said. “Just trying to stay within myself and play the game that I’ve been playing. It’s good that we’re on a streak again and getting going.”
The five-game losing streak is over. The Nats have put up 16 runs in their last two games. The mojo is back.
“We’re good,” Werth said. “I like our team. I like our chances.”