Lefty Zach Jackson Returns To Toronto Roots

The Deal
Knee-deep in unestablished lefthanded pitching options, the Indians traded one of them, 26-year-old Zach Jackson, to the Blue Jays for a player to be named. Toronto originally drafted Jackson with the 32nd overall pick back in 2004, and the lefty also has pitched in the Brewers system, having been included in deals involving Lyle Overbay and C.C. Sabathia.

Jackson had been passed on Cleveland’s depth chart by David Huff, Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers, a trio of southpaws in which the Indians have more invested. Jackson will enter Blue Jays’ spring training with no options remaining.

 
Indians Acquire
We’ll examine the player headed to Cleveland once he’s announced.
 
Blue Jays Acquire
Zach Jackson, lhp
Age: 26.
Born: May 13, 1983 in Greensburg, Pa.
Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 220. Bats: L. Throws: L.
School: Texas A&M.
Career Transactions: Selected by Blue Jays in supplemental first round (32nd overall) of 2004 draft; signed July 30, 2004 … Traded by Blue Jays with RHP David Bush and OF Gabe Gross to Brewers for 1B Lyle Overbay and RHP Ty Taubenheim, Dec. 8, 2005 … Traded by Brewers with OF Matt LaPorta, RHP Rob Bryson and a player to be named to Indians for LHP C.C. Sabathia, July 7, 2008; Indians acquired OF Michael Brantley (Oct. 3, 2008).

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Cleveland (AL) MLB 0 0 9.35 3 1 0 9 14 10 9 2 4 10 2.08
Columbus (IL) AAA 4 8 6.05 30 14 0 100 128 76 67 13 33 67 1.62

Jackson reached Triple-A in 2005, his first full season as a pro, but it’s a level he has yet to conquer in the intervening five years. In those 508 innings, he’s established a baseline of competence (5.12 ERA with 5.9 strikeouts and 3.3 walks per nine innings), but he’s struggled to earn extended big league looks because he doesn’t excel in any one area. For example, Jackson’s strikeout rate would be more tenable were it paired with a low home run rate, but at 0.9 per nine, it’s merely average. He hasn’t even dominated lefthanded batters. In fact, they’ve hit him harder in the big leagues (.909 OPS versus .803) and in his past two Triple-A campaigns than have righthanded hitters. Jackson pitches at 87-89 with his fastball, complementing it with a cutter and a slider. He’s thrown his split changeup more in recent years, but keeping righthanded batters in check seems like a secondary priority for him at this point.

 

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