I feel really bad about the offseason that Carl Edwards Jr. is going to have.
Here’s a guy who just turned 26, who put up a 2.98 ERA in his first full season in the big leagues, and who will be remembered only for a few horrible postseason appearances. In particular, walking Yu Darvish with the bases loaded in the NLCS … that image will stick. There’s no getting around it.
And that’s a shame, because the entirety of Edwards’ season was a fantastic one. He remains a very important arm for the Cubs going forward. But it’s going to be a very long, ugly offseason.
Barring a nearly unprecedented comeback in the NLCS, Edwards will have Dave Roberts to thank for that lasting image of his command troubles reaching a peak.
With the bases loaded and one out in the 6th inning, and the Dodgers leading 3-1, Joc Pederson stepped to the plate, and Curtis Granderson stepped into the on deck circle, ready to bat for Yu Darvish. Edwards got Pederson to fly out to shallow right, and with two outs, Granderson was called back, and Darvish was sent up to take his own at bat. It was a shocking decision until you realized what Roberts was doing: he was specifically sending Darvish up there not to swing and to let Edwards know he wasn’t going to swing.
The message from the Dodgers was clear: the bases are loaded and all you gotta do is throw strikes, kid. Let’s see what you can do.
It was a brilliant move, only confirmed in its efficacy by the fact that Edwards walked Darvish on four straight fastballs out of the zone, and then immediately struck out Chris Taylor on three straight nasty curveballs. Roberts sought to get into Edwards’ head in that moment, and he succeeded.
Joe Maddon seemed bemused when discussing the moment after the game – what else could he be after something like that? – and lauded the Dodgers’ strategy.
In the end, Edwards has periodic control problems. This is neither a secret nor new. But it is something he has reined in for long stretches, and hopefully he can work toward that end over this offseason.
Edwards will be a big part of the Cubs’ bullpen plans for 2018 (though thoughts about him being handed the closer job right out of the gate have probably subsided a bit). He’s just going to have to shake this off somehow.