The Padres acquired reliever Carl Edwards Jr. from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline, and he should be an upgrade for the bullpen.
The Padres sent reliever Brad Wieck to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for veteran reliever Carl Edwards Jr. Edwards is in his fifth major league season after battling through the minors as a 48th round pick in 2011.
He became a staple for the Cubs during their 2016 World Series run, with 36 appearances and a 112 ERA+ in the regular season and then had eight appearances in the postseason with just two earned runs allowed.
He posted a 2.9 WAR total between 2017 and 2018 with an ERA of 2.81 and a 153 ERA+. In 2018, he was 28th in all of baseball with an 11.6 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate.
This season, he has lost his way a bit, to the tune of a 5.87 ERA in 20 games. A bug-a-boo of Edwards’ has always been control, with 5.54 walks per nine innings in 2018, the ninth-highest in the major leagues.
There is a feeling that Edwards can right the ship quickly, especially under the tutelage of Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley, who has turned around a large number of pitchers in his coaching career. Edwards even has the track record some of Balsley’s success stories did not have.
Entering this season, Edwards had not posted an ERA+ lower than 112. Let’s look at what Edwards brings to San Diego’s beleaguered bullpen.
First, Edwards is known for dominating left-handed batters, despite being right-handed. Over his career, lefties are batting .171 against Edwards with a .537 OPS. Naturally, right-handers also struggle, with a .527 OPS. He virtually has no difference in splits between facing right and left-handed batters.
He typically throws a mid-90s fastball with an arching curveball. Occasionally, he will make the fastball cut, making it especially nasty to lefties, like Bryce Harper in the 2017 NLDS.
The Padres have plenty of right-handed arms, but it is a luxury to have one that is as effective against lefties as Edwards historically has been. At just 27 years old, there’s no reason to believe he can’t find his groove again and get back to his 2016-2018 self.
His cutter is also effective against right-handers, as shown below.
Carl Edwards, Jr. with one of the filthiest pitches you'll see.
95 mph Cutter. 😱 pic.twitter.com/n2orl3FGXw
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 9, 2018
That’s an above-average fastball with late movement, which is next to impossible to square up with the bat.
Edwards’ looping curveball is his other weapon, which is especially nasty to right-handers.
Carl Edwards, Jr, Wicked 78mph Curveball. 😨 pic.twitter.com/isQkgDB1MJ
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 7, 2019
That’s a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate in Nolan Arenado that he made look like a fool.
Edwards adds the depth to the Padres’ bullpen that it desperately needs. The Friars’ bullpen is mixed with flame-throwers and finess, soft-tossers and Edwards adds a unique skill set, especially with the ‘pen being young and overworked.
Another bonus is his playoff experience. He has pitched in 15 playoff games, including three in the World Series. In five NLCS games, he is yet to allow a run. In 2016, he won a World Series ring with the Cubs.
He knows what it’s like to grind through a season and accomplish the ultimate goal of every baseball player.
He comes to a place friendly to pitchers, and he has already gotten a small taste of what Petco Park has to offer, with a 2.08 ERA in four games.