An injury during the spring cost Jackson two months and he wasn’t able to carve out a meaningful role with Atlanta once he returned.
The Atlanta Braves brought on Jay Jackson last offseason to provide some depth for the bullpen. Jackson bounced back and forth between Gwinnett and the majors for a period, but saw limited opportunities.
Atlanta acquired Jackson from the San Francisco Giants last November in exchange for cash considerations.
What were the expectations?
The move was made to essentially to free up a spot on San Francisco’s 40-man roster while the Braves took a flier that Jackson could add some depth to the bullpen. When the move was made, the thought was there that Jackson could see a meaningful opportunity at the major league level, but that never transpired.
Jackson came into 2022 with 0.1 career fWAR in 57 2⁄3 innings amassed over parts of four seasons, though that came with a 90 xFIP-. He probably wasn’t expected to be anything more than the last guy in the bullpen, but there was some upside there for sure.
Jackson’s season got off to a tough start as he was placed on the 60-day Injured List on March 18 due to a lat strain. He completed a rehab assignment and was reinstated from the Injured List and optioned to Gwinnett on July 2. To make room on the active roster, the Braves designated Touki Toussaint for assignment.
Jackson was added to the major league roster multiple times in August and September, but he made just two appearances, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing a hit and recording one strikeout. One of his appearances even came in medium leverage, which is kind of impressive given how aggressively the Braves hoarded all but the lowest of leverage for their key relievers.
Jackson was designated for assignment on September 16 to clear a 40-man roster spot for Ozzie Albies who was activated from the 60-day injured list.
What went right? What went wrong?
The injury during the spring really set Jackson back and by the time he returned in July, he was essentially used as a fresh arm for the major league club. He pitched well at Gwinnett posting a 2.29 ERA and a 2.90 FIP to go along with 25 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings. However, it wasn’t enough to carve out a meaningful opportunity at the major league level, and the 4.66 xFIP that accompanied those results at Gwinnett was a bit worrisome.
Jackson actually collected 0.06 WPA as a result of a scoreless inning he threw in a 3-2 loss to the Rockies on August 30. Here’s him wrapping up his scoreless inning.
And here’s him giving up his only baserunner of the season. This was actually Sean Bouchard’s first major league hit:
You’ve now seen two of the five plate appearances Jackson participated in this year.
Jackson was among the group of Braves that became free agents at the end of the season. He turned 35 at the end of October and will again be looking for an opportunity with a team during the spring.
He might actually be an above-replacement reliever if given a chance, but his age and relatively generic arsenal mean teams will probably keep picking someone else over him for the last spot or two in the bullpen.