The Cincinnati Reds made a whole lot of roster moves this afternoon, which I wrote about over at Redleg Nation, but one of those moves was the signing of right-handed reliever Jay Jackson. The Reds signed him to a minor league deal, but added him to the 60-man player pool and assigned him to the Prasco Park alternate roster in Mason.
Jackson has pitched in the Major Leagues in two different seasons. Back in 2015 he threw 4.1 innings over six games for the San Diego Padres, allowing three runs, walking a batter, and striking out four. Then in 2019 he pitched in 28 games for the Milwaukee Brewers, posting a 4.45 ERA in 30.1 innings while striking out 47 batters, walking 18, and hitting two.
The now 32-year-old has spent most of his recent years pitching in Japan. Following his 2015 season, Jay Jackson headed to Japan where he joined the Hiroshima Carp, pitching for them from 2016-2018. He performed so well, posting ERA’s of 1.71, 2.03, and 2.76 in his time there, that the Brewers brought him back to the United States where he spent 2019. He dominated in Triple-A, posting a 1.33 ERA in 40.2 innings with 10 walks and 54 strikeouts. His time in the Majors with Milwaukee was league average from an ERA standpoint (100 ERA+). Following the 2019 season, Jackson became a free agent, and he went back to Japan where he pitched briefly for Chiba Lotte, throwing 7.0 innings with three walks and 12 strikeouts.
We can look back at his 2019 season to get a good idea of what he’s going to bring to the table. And that is a whole bunch of sliders. Last season he threw a slider 55% of the time, while mixing in a fastball 42% of the time, and occasionally throwing a change up. The fastball averaged 94.6 MPH, while his slider came in at 86.0 MPH.
It’s the slider that is his go-to offering, both in terms of how often he throws it, but also in how effective it is. Among the 249 relievers in Major League Baseball last season who threw at least 30 innings, Jackson’s slider was rated as the 39th most effective according to Fangraphs. On the flip side of that, though, is that his fastball rated out 228th of the 249 pitchers on the list.
Last season Jay Jackson struggled with his control in the Major Leagues, walking 13.6% of the hitters that he faced. That’s a rate that’s going to have to be better if he’s going to find success over a long period of time. His walk rates haven’t been nearly that bad anywhere else, though. Improving there, and getting a little better results with his fastball would seem to be the areas of which he could improve upon.