ATLANTA -- Carl Edwards Jr. worked on a new delivery all spring that involved an exaggerated pause and toe tap, but two games into the season, he’s abandoning it.
It’s not entirely by choice, though, as Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after Monday’s 8-0 loss to the Braves that Major League Baseball informed him that the new delivery is illegal. By rule, pitchers are not allowed to take a second step toward home plate with either foot.
The Cubs were miffed at the explanation, since Edwards modeled the delivery after Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, but they were also upset it took the league so long to inform Edwards that he couldn’t use the delivery. It wasn’t until the end of Spring Training that umpire Bill Miller mentioned that the delivery was illegal.
“You can’t hit the ground twice apparently, but for years the guys did the double pump, and their back foot will hit the ground twice,” Maddon said. “Pitchers that come set and their foot will tap, tap, tap, and then they'll come set and pitch. There’s all that, so maybe they’re talking about after you start your delivery. I don’t know. It’s not bumming me out. It’s fine with Carl. It’s just that it took so long to get back to us.”
Edwards worked on the delivery over the offseason because he was not content with his command. Although he struck out 30.2 percent of the hitters he faced, he also had a 14.4 percent walk rate, which was fifth-highest among pitchers with at least 50 innings. Edwards felt the new delivery gave him more consistency.
Edwards was very effective in Spring Training, with eight strikeouts and no walks in six innings, but his lone regular-season game with the delivery did not go as planned. He was unable to record an out against the Rangers, while giving up a pair of hits and walks. Texas manager Chris Woodward openly complained to the umpires about Edwards' delivery when he faced his first batter.
Monday’s outing was back to normal for Edwards, though, as he threw 15 of 21 pitches for strikes and had a walk and a strikeout in a scoreless seventh inning. All in all, he felt comfortable with the mechanics he used last season.
“It would’ve been nice if they had told me in Spring Training, but it is what it is,” Edwards said. “It doesn’t matter. I just went back to what I used to do. Just went back to trusting what I’ve been doing.”