How does someone pitch for 14 different teams before his 36th birthday?
Edwin Jackson is on the verge of accomplishing exactly that after the right-hander was traded from Oakland to Toronto. He is expected to start for the Blue Jays this week, in which case he would set a record by pitching for a 14th team.
Jackson got an early start, making his major league debut on his 20th birthday, and his career has included some highs and lows. He’s won a World Series, thrown a no-hitter and appeared in an All-Star game. But mostly, he’s been ordinary — not consistently good enough to stick with one team, but solid enough in stretches to earn plenty of opportunities.
Here’s a look at Jackson’s journey, including stats from each of his stops, courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com. (FIP stands for Fielding Independent Pitching. It’s an ERA-like metric that attempts to measure how well a pitcher performs, using strikeouts, walks, home runs allowed and hit batsmen — stats the defense doesn’t influence.)
LOS ANGELES DODGERS (2003-05, 75 1/3 innings, 5.50 ERA, 5.29 FIP)
The Dodgers drafted Jackson in the sixth round in 2001, and he made his big league debut in 2003. But in a sign of things to come, he struggled to keep his walk totals down and pitched only sparingly before being traded to Tampa Bay.
TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS/RAYS (2006-08, 380 2/3 innings, 5.08 ERA, 4.85 FIP)
Jackson was a regular starter for Tampa Bay in 2007 and 2008, and in the latter year he went 14-11 with a 4.42 ERA. He also pitched a bit in the postseason in ’08. Then the Rays traded him to Detroit for Matt Joyce.
DETROIT TIGERS (2009, 214 innings, 3.62 ERA, 4.28 FIP)
Jackson earned All-Star honors in his one season with Detroit, going 13-9. The Tigers included him in a three-team trade with the Diamondbacks and Yankees the following offseason — a deal that brought Max Scherzer to Detroit.
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (2010, 134 1/3 innings, 5.16 ERA, 4.24 FIP)
Jackson didn’t last the season with Arizona. The Diamondbacks traded him to the White Sox after 21 starts. But one of those starts was a 149-pitch no-hitter he threw at Tampa Bay. It was classic Jackson — he walked eight batters in the game.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX (2010-11, 196 2/3 innings, 3.66 ERA, 3.22 FIP)
The 30 starts Jackson made for the White Sox over parts of two seasons included some of the best work of his career. He was traded again in 2011, ending up with the contending Cardinals for the stretch run.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (2011, 78 innings, 3.58 ERA, 4.01 FIP)
St. Louis won the World Series in 2011, with Jackson contributing 12 starts in the regular season and four more in the postseason. One of Jackson’s teammates with the Cardinals was another well-traveled pitcher: reliever Octavio Dotel, who pitched for 13 teams from 1999-2013.
WASHINGTON NATIONALS (2012 and 2017, 260 2/3 innings, 4.32 ERA, 4.40 FIP)
Jackson spent multiple stints with the Nationals after signing as a free agent. He made 31 starts in 2012.
CHICAGO CUBS (2013-15, 347 innings, 5.37 ERA, 3.98 FIP)
Jackson finally had a chance to stay with one team for a bit after signing with the Cubs, but his tenure there didn’t go well. He lost 18 games in 2013 and had a 6.33 ERA in 2014. His FIP numbers suggest he was a little unlucky, but eventually the Cubs stopped using him as a starter.
ATLANTA BRAVES (2015, 24 2/3 innings, 2.92 ERA, 4.96 FIP)
After being released by the Cubs, Jackson resumed his nomadic ways, finishing the 2015 season in a relief role with Atlanta.
MIAMI MARLINS (2016, 10 2/3 innings, 5.91 ERA, 5.96 FIP)
The Marlins picked up Jackson before the season and then released him after eight relief appearances.
SAN DIEGO PADRES (2016, 73 1/3 innings, 5.89 ERA, 5.27 FIP)
Jackson found an opportunity to start again when he joined the Padres, who were on their way to a last-place finish in 2016.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES (2017, five innings, 7.20 ERA, 9.96 FIP)
Jackson made only three appearances with the Orioles before going back to the Nationals.
OAKLAND ATHLETICS (2018, 92 innings, 3.33 ERA, 4.65 FIP)
Jackson was released by Washington and signed with Oakland during the 2018 season. He went 6-3 in 17 starts with the A’s, helping them to a postseason berth. If he can repeat those results with Toronto, the Blue Jays will probably be pretty pleased.
Elsewhere around the majors:
The Red Sox have recovered from their poor start and are now just three games out of first place in the AL East. They can thank Jackie Bradley Jr. for their 12-inning victory at Baltimore on Wednesday night. The outfielder leaped above the wall in center to take what would have been a game-winning homer away from Trey Mancini in the 11th.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Oakland’s Mike Fiers threw the second no-hitter of his career Tuesday night, beating Cincinnati 2-0. He became the 35th pitcher with multiple no-hitters, finishing his gem despite a high pitch count that ultimately reached 131.
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