Why Joe Maddon Called Upon Carl Edwards Jr. in a Dirty Inning for His Return to the Cubs

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Why Joe Maddon Called Upon Carl Edwards Jr. in a Dirty Inning for His Return to the Cubs

Chicago Cubs

Early this season, after some really ugly outings to begin the year, Carl Edwards Jr. was optioned to AAA Iowa, in part to work on his “mental game.” It’s one of those aspects of a pitcher’s role that’s tough to talk about, because you don’t want to play armchair psychologist, but we also know that *of course* there’s a mental component to consistent success in all situations.

Edwards has killer stuff, but he has long struggled with his ability to command it, particularly when the situation got the tightest with runners on base, and when an inning starts to get away from him. Fortunately, his sojourn at AAA seemed to work wonders, because he came back as dominating as we’ve seen him in a Cubs uniform, and he held it steady for a month and a half.

Unfortunately, he then hurt his upper back, needed to rehab back at AAA, and only just returned this weekend. It would seem to me that, in so returning, given his history, it would have been advisable – if at all possible – to bring him first back into a low-leverage, very comfortable, full-inning spot. That, of course, is not what happened, as Edwards was called upon to get out of a dirty top of the 9th yesterday, totally lost his command – it got so bad that he was throwing 91 mph, clearly just trying desperately to guide the ball into the strike zone.

It was a frustrating appearance in a frustrating situation for a guy who has tantalized with a frustrating inability to really deploy his stuff. I pretty chapped by the outing, but I want to at least offer Joe Maddon’s explanation for why he used Edwards the way he did in his first outing back from the Injured List. Here is Maddon’s explanation, as well as what my criticism looked like in the moment. I still don’t agree, but it is not an unreasonable explanation from Maddon, who clearly was cognizant of the mental game issues at play – he and I just break different ways on this one.

For now, I think I’ll leave it here, and we’ll accumulate more information in the coming week leading up to the Trade Deadline, when the Cubs may reformat the bullpen composition in any case.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.