Edwin Jackson: Thanks for Saving the Detroit Tigers

Austin DrakeSenior Analyst IJune 1, 2009

LAKELAND, FL - FEBRUARY 21:  (EDITOR'S NOTE: IMAGES HAVE BEEN DIGITALLY DESATURATED) Edwin Jackson #36 of the Detroit Tigers poses for a portrait during Photo Day on February 21, 2009 at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Less than seven months ago, Detroit Tigers fans and the rest of the baseball world knew what the problem was in Detroit. Pitching.

The Tigers' pitching staff was one of the worst in the league, let alone just the American League. No Detroit pitcher had an ERA under 3.29 in 2008 and fans screamed for help and rumors began to swirl near the trade deadline.

At the deadline in 2008, Detroit dealt hall-of-fame catcher, Ivan Rodriguez to the New York Yankees in exchange for hard throwing reliever, Kyle Farnsworth. Fans were anything but happy.

In 16 appearances with Detroit, Farnsworth posted a 6.75 ERA, and gave up 15 hits per nine innings pitched. The fans had a sense of 'told you so', and at the end of the season Farnsworth was gone, not even a thought of resigning.

The 2008-2009 offseason came on quickly, as the Tigers sat at home and watched a similar team like them, the Tampa Bay Rays, make it to the World Series, almost in exact fashion as they did in 2006.

The Rays were led by young, overpowering pitching and solid bats up and down the lineup. Detroit needed pitching, so why not see who was expendable from Tampa's roster. They landed upon Edwin Jackson, the Rays fourth or fifth starter, behind Scott Kazmir, James Shields, Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine.

Jackson had been drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth round of the 2001 amateur draft and struggled mightily in the script "Dodgers" uniform. He then was moved to the Devil Rays (at the time) and pitched in 23 games in 2006 and didn't even pick up a decision.

The following year, 2007, Edwin was moved to the rotation and again struggled, a 5-15 season on a bad team, nothing was going right.

2008 was another story for Jackson and the newly named, Rays. The team changed their look style of play for the '08 season and took Major League Baseball and it's fans by storm.

Edwin Jackson improved to a 14-11 record and a 4.42 ERA on his new look, winning team. The Tigers saw this and needed to add him to the staff.

By no means were the Rays just going to give up Jackson, the Tigers needed to make a solid offer to receive his solid arm in return. So, to the dismay of Detroit fan's, once again, GM Dave Dombrowski traded away talented young outfielder, Matt Joyce, to Tampa.

In his rookie season with Detroit, Joyce slapped 12 home runs and 33 RBI, as he added pop from the left side of the plate, something that was rare on the Tigers roster. The 23 year old also had phenomenal fielding skills, as he put up a .972 fielding percentage in 570.1 innings in the outfield for Detroit in 2008.

The Tigers needed more help with pitching then they did in the outfield, so the deal was done. Detroit receives Edwin Jackson, Tampa gets Matt Joyce, an official trade on December 10, 2008.

Since that day, it has been all up-hill for Edwin Jackson and the Tigers. Thus far in 2009, Jackson may be pitching the best baseball of his career, 5-3 with a 2.30 ERA and three times as many strikeouts (57) to walks (18).

For the Rays and Matt Joyce, it's a different story. Joyce has a .231 average with just two home runs and two RBIs in minimal Major League plate appearances this season.

The Tigers are sitting in first place in the AL Central at the moment, behind great pitching and defense. It is the first season in a long time where Tigers fans aren't begging for a pitcher come the trade deadline.

So, thanks Edwin Jackson, for starting to right the ship in Detroit, and saving the pitching staff.