We will forever remain hopeful on certain types of players: guys who have natural ability that few others will ever have. Like, hard work and development is absolutely great, but there are some guys who have a “thing” that you simply cannot develop. You ever have it or you don’t; and when you see a guy like that, you just hope he can do enough of the other stuff to make that “thing” play.
Raw power? Insane bat speed? A preternatural ability to recognize spin? If you’ve got one of these things, for example, your leash is always going to be a bit longer.
One of the most obvious players who fits into that category is Carl Edwards Jr., who naturally possesses a perfect fastball: good velocity, very high spin, great extension, and natural cutting movement.
It is almost never the case that you could carve out a big league career on a single pitch, thrown wherever you happen to throw it in the strike zone (though it’s interesting that two guys I can think of immediately are also both relievers who threw a naturally-cutting fastball … ). But that’s so freaking Carl Edwards Jr. If he can just throw his natural fastball in the strike zone, wherever, he can have success. Sure, to be elite he’d have to locate it well and still use his plus curveball, but dang, man. Literally all the guy has to do to be a useful reliever, at a minimum, is just throw his fastball in the strike zone over and over and over.
To that end, and to his comeback, a very nice story:
I like redemption stories. Carl Edwards, Jr. has been through hell in the last month and a half, but since coming back to the majors, he has yet to allow a baserunner.@NBCSCubs:https://t.co/UAVmJifDOz
— Jared Wyllys (@jwyllys) May 12, 2019
Bonus from Joe Maddon, saying almost exactly what we’ve always said about Edwards, which makes me feel all the more confident in the position: “He’s not trying to be so fine either side, he’s just trying to throw a strike and let the natural movement take care of itself. Which I’m good with. His natural movement is that good. He’ll know when he’s able to dot it up, but when you’re trying to dot it up and you’re not really there, don’t try that. I’d much prefer him just attack in strike mode with his stuff as opposed to trying to be this finely tuned guy that’s always nibbling at corners. That’s not who he is.”
At 52.4% since his return from Iowa, he’s simply been in the strike zone a buttload more often than he has otherwise in his career (41.1%).
Just. Throw. Strikes. It may be truer for Edwards than any other pitcher on the Cubs (and believe me, I know who else is on that list!).
Edwards, 27, totally lost his ability to throw strikes last year in the second half, did plenty of tinkering in the offseason, and came into the 2019 season showing all the same problems. The Cubs decided it was time for a serious reboot, which had Edwards sent down to Iowa. It’ll take much longer for us to know if anything is permanently fixed, but I’d like to end this on a very fun note: since his return, he’s thrown three perfect innings of relief.
Know the last time he had ONE perfect inning of relief? September 16 of last year.
Know how many times he had three perfect innings of relief in a row last year? Just once.