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Jackson's job could be in jeopardy

8/15/2014
Jerry Lai/USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson says he’s not concerned with losing his starting job in the final weeks of the season because it’s not something he can control. He’s only half right. He doesn’t make the decisions, but if he was pitching better it certainly wouldn’t be on the table.

“I know I’m a way better pitcher than I’ve been showing,” Jackson said after giving up five runs in a 6-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday. “I don’t walk around with my head held down and I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me.”

It’s doubtful anyone is feeling sorry for Jackson, considering he’s going to make $52 million from the Cubs despite posting the worst ERA (5.74) this year among all starters who have pitched enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. But with a 6-13 record, will he lose his starting gig?

“Not necessarily,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I don’t think that’s anything that’s in the forefront of my thinking or the organization’s thinking. If something were to change we’ll let you guys know.”

Jackson has to see the writing on the wall. The Cubs already announced that Dan Straily will make his Cubs debut on Saturday, pushing everyone back a start while newcomer Jacob Turner threw 2.1 clean innings of relief for Jackson on Thursday. After the game Turner said he was ready for a starting role if called upon.

“At this point you have to worry about the things you can control,” Jackson said. “I was way too mechanical. Thinking of way too many things then I should have been. I never felt like I got in a rhythm.”

Despite his willingness to take the blame for his performance since becoming a Cub, patience has worn out among fans and the team can’t be far behind. At this moment of the rebuilding process, Jackson sticks out like a sore thumb. He’s not young and he can’t be much of a leader with the results as they are. The two rookies that pitched on Tuesday and Wednesday -- Kyle Hendricks and Tsuyoshi Wada -- make Jackson look even worse right now as they shut down the Brewers. Renteria has tried everything. Now they’re talking about his pace.

“See if we can get him (going) on the hill a little quicker,” the manager said. “See if we can speed up that process.”

At this point there may not be much to salvage, at least not for this season. Straily and Turner are just a couple of pitchers the Cubs might want to take a look at down the stretch. Once rosters expand in September it would be easy to stash Jackson in the bullpen as a long reliever then re-evaluate what to do with him this winter. He’s owed $22 million over the next two years.

“I’ve had a stretch where I felt comfortable,” he said. “Today was the first time in a while I felt super mechanical. Today I felt like I was a robot.”