Braves: Is it time for fans to cut Luke Jackson some slack?

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Luke Jackson has been the punching bag for Braves fans for a few years now, and at times, he deserves much of the criticism. Jackson has had his struggles in Atlanta, and every fan has called for him to be released at some point. He looked to be on the roster bubble after 2020, which was easily his worst season in Atlanta. After posting a respectable 3.84 ERA in 2019, Jackson allowed a gaudy 20 earned runs (23 total) over 26.1 innings. His 1.975 WHIP wasn’t much better than his 6.84 ERA. However, the Braves chose to bring Jackson back for 2021, and he has bounced back in a major way:


Luke Jackson in 2021: 21 IP, 15 H, 3 ER, 10 BB, 20 K (1.29 ERA)


Jackson still isn’t infallible; he has his warts. Anyone who watches the Braves knows it’s never easy with Jackson; he typically allows a baserunner or two before working himself out of a jam. His 1.19 WHIP will attest to that. His 3.89 FIP indicates that he has been a bit lucky, and his performance so far likely isn’t sustainable, BUT he has worked himself out of trouble when he has had to.

Jackson still isn’t perfect, and I’m reluctant to trust him in any high-leverage situation, but he has been the best Braves relief arm in 2021 and has provided a lot of stability in a bullpen that undeniably got worse this offseason. However, advanced analytics would indicate that Jackson still has some issues that haven’t been exposed yet. Via Baseball Savant:

screen shot 2021 06 04 at 4.11.13 pm

His chase rate and whiff rate are encouraging, but he’s still getting hit quite hard when hitters do make contact. That is a cause for concern, but for now, he has made the best of 2021. Jackson is nowhere near out of the dog house for Braves fans, but I think, for now, it’s time to lay off the guy.

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