During the winter, the Devil Rays traded their All-Star closer for two of the Dodgers’ top pitching prospects. One of those prospects was Edwin Jackson. Jackson got his first major league start on his 20th birthday, September 9, 2003. He responded by going 6 innings, allowing 4 hits and just 1 run, while out-dueling Randy Johnson for the win. The Devil Rays envisioned Jackson as one of their future starters, but now it seems they may have found their future closer. Earlier in the year Edwin was called up to spot start. In his start, against Texas, Jackson had a bad third and beginning of the fourth inning before retiring the next 15 batters. Although he pitched well, the Devil Rays sent him back down to Durham. In Durham, Jackson’s mechanics were changed so he would not kill his arm. He throws in the high 90s and has an electric slider to go along with it. Now the Devil Rays have recalled Edwin from Durham to bolster their bullpen. Joe Maddon wants to use him in short bursts to take advantage of his hard throwing.
At the moment, Tyler Walker is the Devil Rays’ closer, but look for ‘EJAX’ to take it from him in the second half. It has been said that Walker gets the ugliest saves of any closer. Walker never seems to have a 1-2-3 inning, nor does he have that ‘out’ pitch closers need. Walker is also now suffering from elbow tendonitis, which sometimes is hard to shake. With Walker being injured, and journeymen and castoffs in the bullpen, look for Jackson to get his fair share of opportunities. The Devil Rays have the worst bullpen in the league, so Jackson will get his chances to rise above. For now, keep an eye on the closing situation and keep your eyes on this rising 22 year old hurler.
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