Rob’s 2020 Atlanta Braves Bullpen Wildcard – Luke Jackson

A lot of talk is centered around Will Smith, Chris Martin, Mark Melancon, and Shane Greene — the key acquisitions of last trading deadline and this offseason — and that’s for good reason. After all, they’ll be cumulatively collecting around $45M, and they’ll account for the vast majority of high leverage innings by the bullpen this year. And if those were the only quality arms in the bullpen, you still would have one of the best bullpens in baseball. And while there are a couple forgotten bullpen arms as well — for example, wherever Sean Newcomb ends up, he’ll have a big year — one name that is likely to be a key piece of a division-winning team is Braves Luke Jackson.

A lot has been made of Luke Jackson already, and there are some really annoying people on Twitter that like to talk about Luke Jackson incessantly. But there’s a contingent of fans that think he was a relief ace for us at one point, and there is another contingent of fans that think that he’s a DFA candidate and a below average member of the bullpen. But to be honest, I think he’s closer to the bullpen ace description than the other one.

Braves Luke Jackson’s 2019

Luke Jackson had an exceptional year last year. For the league minimum, or roughly 1/38th of what Mark Melancon is making, Lukey turned in some impressive numbers. He led the team in appearances and relief innings pitched, all but being a savior to the Braves’ division hopes early in the season when relief arms came at a premium. He appeared in the 25th-most games amongst relievers, for what it’s worth.

However, he wasn’t just a durable arm. He was third amongst team relievers in Win Probability Added, behind Anthony Swarzak (that guy was pretty good until he wasn’t) and Mark Melancon. The rest of his results are pretty interesting and resoundingly good. The Sliderman had the highest strike out rate on the team, 13.13 K/9. He mostly kept the ball in the ballpark (1.24 HR/9), kept his walk rate respectable (3.22 BB/9), and FIP liked him a good bit: 3.24 FIP. All told, he led the relievers in fWAR with 1.3 fWAR largely because he was an effective bellcow wire-to-wire.

Braves Luke Jackson’s 2020?

He’s still cheap ($1.825M salary for 2020), so it’s very doable for him to be worth his salary going forward. Hopefully we won’t need him 70 games in 2020 like we did in 2019, but he’s a good bet to lengthen a bullpen that already has elite arms at the top, and if any of them miss any significant time due to injury, Atlanta would be in good hands to be able to give the ball more to Jackson.

Thanks for reading on Braves Luke Jackson. If you enjoyed this piece and would like to hear more about Luke, check out our 2020 Spring Training Notes category, which features plenty of the Sliderman.

Long Live Braves Journal!

11 thoughts on “Rob’s 2020 Atlanta Braves Bullpen Wildcard – Luke Jackson”

  1. Calling all Braves Journalers!

    We are in need of each other more than ever and interaction here might be all that many people received over the course of the next few months.


    Here are some ideas:

    •Re-watch an old playoff game with a retro-active look at the game (already have someone that did this and will go up tomorrow.
    •Favorite Band of All-Time, complete with the stories and videos behind the reason.
    •Favorite Movie of All-Time, complete with the stories and videos behind the reason.
    •Favorite Books of All-Time, complete with the stories and videos behind the reason.
    •A Memorable Braves Games Experience
    •Favorite Braves Player of All-Time, complete with stories and video highlights.

    If you want to do a piece and are not an author here, email me at cothrjr at gmail dot com.

  2. I hope you’re right about Jackson being closer to an ace and going into his age 28 season he could definitely have 2 to 3 really good years. Otoh, his track record before 2018 was dismal and he was a strong candidate for DFA throughout 2018. His WHIP has always been a concern and his slider seems to be pretty rough on his arm. If he has an arm injury I don’t see him coming back anytime soon. 2019 wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad either. It could have been the outlier.

  3. Thanks coop.

    If Jackson’s slider doesn’t cause injury, then I would think that 2019 is sustainable performance as he’s made a huge adjustment in his pitch mix. If people start hitting it or he gets injured, ok, but until one of those two things happen, I think he’ll keep performing.

    And like I said, I’d love to see his workload decreased because of the injury concerns.

  4. Thanks for highlighting my favorite Brave…so pleased to find out he’s only 28!…if the measure of a man is to come back from what approached ridicule in some quarters, then he wears the crown…. 1.85M eh, who else in the pen can come within a mile of that for value for money and services past rendered… And that slider. To heck with the walks, they simply set the stage.

  5. NBA is considering, at minimum, a 3 month hiatus. Considering these leagues have the same people advising them, that would be June 11th at the earliest. Gosh, that’s so disheartening and that seems like best case scenario.

    There sure are going to be a lot of new alcoholics and people suffering from depression in the next 3 months.

  6. @8 – Yep. However if they’re going to get drunk in Los Angeles, Ohio, or Illinois, they’ll have to do it alone. They just shut down sit down restaurants and bars. I’m sure others will be following suit.

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