The Cubs and Edwin Jackson are running out of answers

The Cubs and Edwin Jackson are running out of answers
July 30, 2014, 9:45 pm
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The Cubs could be approaching a breaking point with Edwin Jackson, but they can’t build any trade value if he’s sitting at the end of the bullpen.  

The Cubs won’t be boxed in by Thursday’s 3 p.m. non-waiver deadline. There’s still almost $26 million left on Jackson’s frontloaded contract that runs through 2016, and he has a 5.79 ERA the year after leading the majors with 18 losses. 

The Cubs would love to hear from a team that gets desperate during the August waiver period. They should have the financial flexibility to kick in money and make something happen. 

Eventually, the Cubs will want to get a look at Felix Doubront, the enigmatic 26-year-old lefty acquired in Wednesday’s deal with the Boston Red Sox. They also want to see Dan Straily, the 25-year-old right-hander who reported to Triple-A Iowa after getting traded from the Oakland A’s in the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel deal.

[MORE: Cubs trade for Felix Doubront, who wanted out of Boston]

But it sounds like the Cubs aren’t ready to bump Jackson from the rotation yet.

“We have to try to put our finger on (whatever) the ‘stumbling block,’ quote-unquote, is,” manager Rick Renteria said. “We’ll see if we can get to the crux of it. He’s going to get the ball again. He’s going to go out there and give us another shot the next time around.”

Jackson started the longest game in franchise history that stretched from Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies that lasted 16 innings at Wrigley Field.

Jackson needed 105 pitches to get through four innings after giving up three runs in the first. The bullpen handled the stress and put together 12 scoreless innings. But it’s been a challenge for a first-year manager learning on the job and a group of inexperienced relievers.

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There’s been a ripple effect as Jackson has gone beyond six innings only three times in 22 starts this season.

“We do worry about it. We need our starters to get deep,” GM Jed Hoyer said. “It makes a huge difference for us. When you’re covering 12 outs a night, that’s really, really hard on those guys. They end up getting tired and I think you’ve seen that dip in performance.

“We had a pretty good run for a month, a month-and-a-half, where we had a great bullpen. Some of it’s naturally those guys wearing down, and some of it’s having to cover too many innings.”

It’s not personal with Jackson, a good clubhouse guy who’s accountable and doesn’t duck the media.

“It’s been a tough stretch for me lately,” Jackson said. “It seems like anything that can happen, does happen. It’s just more frustrating when you feel good, you feel nice and strong, and you go out and you continue to have outings like this.”

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