When you hear someone referred to as a beanpole, it conjures images of a wisp of a person who disappears when they turn sideways and needs to be strapped down when there’s a stiff breeze. And that’s true. But the thing about beanpoles is that their purpose is to provide support for plants that would otherwise be earthbound due to their own weight. Still, you don’t want to lean too heavily on them.
Huh, sounds kind of like Carl Edwards Jr, who’s going to be called upon to play a more integral role for the Cubs this season. At the same time, it doesn’t sound like Joe Maddon is ready to take the kid gardening gloves all the way off just yet.
“You saw last year what he’s capable of doing,” Maddon said Wednesday. “I really anticipate a lot of the same and probably a little bit of an uptick there. So you want to make sure that this ability’s going to be there for several years to come.”
In an ideal world, Edwards would continue to move into higher leverage situations until he’s eventually ready to assume the full-time closer role. If he’s able to keep slinging that unhittable fastball, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him take over the 9th inning as soon as 2018.
We’ve seen how the Cubs loaded up on relievers over the course of the offseason, mainly as a way of creating redundancy at the back end of the rotation and in middle relief. Having all those extra arms also serves to insulate the guys at the back end of the pen, too.
“I would like to believe that we should not have to push him too hard,” the skipper said.
With roughly 843 pitchers in camp right now, Maddon can take it easy on Edwards throughout the spring. And with Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon entrenched in the later innings, the Cubs can continue to allow the youngster to acclimate slowly to increased responsibility like a frog in a pot of boiling water.
Mmmm…tastes like chicken.
Edwards’ ascendance is going to be an interesting storyline to follow this season, in large part because there’ll likely be a governor on him in the early going. If he’s able to keep his foot down on that easy gas, though, he may be able to set his own course.