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Nationals’ Highest-Paid Starter Earning His Pay

Edwin Jackson’s major league career has been irregular to say the least.  Since his debut in 2003 at the young age of 19, he has played for seven teams in his first ten seasons.  In addition, he has spent his past two seasons with three different teams.  Last year he even helped lead the St. Louis Cardinals to the their eleventh World Championship before being released back into the free agent pool once again.

Not many expected Jackson to end up with the Nationals come the beginning of 2012 especially after their blockbuster trade for Gio Gonzalez, but on February 2, everyone was surprised.  The Nationals inked Jackson to a one-year deal and solidified his spot behind the likes of ace Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and the aforementioned Gonzalez.

What truly astounded everyone though, was the money behind the contract.  For a single year, Jackson, a pitcher who had a career ERA significantly above four and a .500 win percentage, was guaranteed a full $11 million.  $6 million more than the next highest paid pitcher John Lannan, $9 million more than Jordan Zimmermann, and over $7 million more than the newest addition Gio Gonzalez.  Instantly after the signing, the front office justified their decision though by announcing that they believed they could fix the flaws that they saw in the past.  More importantly, mastermind Steve McCatty was on the job and so far he hasn’t disappointed.

Jackson has surpassed all expectations and is currently having the best season of his career.  As the fourth starter in the rotation, he has an ERA of 2.91 with a team leading 1.036 WHIP.  He has also eaten tons of innings with efficient pitching, like everyone hoped, and is the only pitcher in the staff with a complete game this season.  This June specifically, he has been outstanding.  In four starts, he has a .186 batting average against with a 2.30 ERA and a .750 win average. With one more start to go this month against the struggling Rockies and Alex White, it looks like he may improve these stats even more.

If Jackson keeps this production up, he certainly will be worth the money that he is being paid, but I wouldn’t expect him to stay with Washington in the future.  With contract extensions for Strasburg and Zimmermann coming up, Jackson will most likely be moving on to his eighth team.  Hopefully, for us though, Jackson will see the postseason for the second consecutive year.

About Joe Drugan

Managing editor of The Nats Blog and co-host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast.

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