will find yet another new home in 2013, as he and the Chicago Cubs have agreed to terms on a four-year contract worth 52 million dollars pending a physical. The Cubs are Jackson's eighth major league team overall, and seventh team since the 2008 season.
Jackson, 29, spent the entire 2012 season with the Washington Nationals. While with the Nats, he carried a 4.03 ERA, striking out 168 batters (8.0 K/9), while walking 63 (2.9 K/BB) over 189-plus innings pitched. 2012 was his fifth straight season of eclipsing the 180 inning pitched mark, and he passed the 200 inning pitched mark in 2009 and 2010.
The right-hander will slot into the Cubs rotation behind Jeff Samardzija
and Matt Garza
, as the team's number three starter. If he can duplicate last season's 47.3% ground ball rate, he should fair well at Wrigley Field, but there is the concern of Chicago's defensively weak left side of the infield. GM Jed Hoyer sees Jackson as part of the team's immediate future, including a no-trade clause into his contract. This potentially will be the first time Jackson will play for the same professional team for consecutive years since his time in Tampa Bay from the 2006-2008 seasons.
A concern that surrounds Jackson is injury risk because of his pitch selection. Even though he primarily throws his fastball, Jackson relies heavily on a slider, which can be absolutely nasty at times. Jeff Zimmerman from FanGraphs
has chronicled the correlation between pitchers that land on the disabled list with the amount of breaking balls
they throw. The threshold marks for his study are pitchers that throw a breaking ball at least 30% of the time in 120 or more innings pitched in a season. Jackson has consistently come close to achieving both marks from 2009-2012, where he has pitched at least 120 innings, and threw his slider 27.4%, 29.3%, 33.7%, and 28.2% of the time in those respected years.
The fact that he has not yet spent significant time on the disabled list could be because he was converted to a pitcher by the Dodgers organization when he was in his late teens. Another influencing factor is he did not start consistently throwing a slider until the 2007 season when he was with the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
From a fantasy stand point, the risk of injury should be of minor concern. His ERA will probably maintain near the 4.00 mark, which isn't great, but the consistent strike out rate makes it easier to live with that mark. Because of the amount of hits Jackson allows, his WHIP is the stat that could hinge his season from being considered a mediocre starting pitcher, to a great one. As mentioned, the current state of defense in Chicago's infield would lead one to believe that he will not be getting a lot of help in that category. In a mixed league he should be considered a mid-level three starting pitcher, and a weak two in a 10-team NL-Only league.