GThe 2021 season for right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. was a winding path full of starts and stops. A right-handed power arm, Edwards looked like he could be an intriguing possibility for the bullpen if he could somehow harness his potential. There wasn’t a whole lot of success along the way, but it is an interesting story.
Edwards spent the first five seasons of his career with the Chicago Cubs and put up a 3.30 ERA and a 3.33 FIP in 174 1/3 innings. He struggled in 2019 and was traded to the San Diego Padres, with whom he made just two appearances. He became a free agent at the end of the season and signed with the Seattle Mariners for 2020. He made just five appearances while with the Mariners after his working his way back from injury. He signed a minor league deal with the Braves on January 29 ahead of Spring Training.
Edwards was a non-roster invitee for the Braves during the spring and seemed to have at least an outside shot to work his way into the bullpen picture. Recall that Atlanta had lost Darren O’Day, Shane Greene and Mark Melancon in free agency from the year before, and had a pretty uncertain bullpen picture going into Opening Day.
2021 Season results
Edwards went to Spring Training and appeared in eight games, allowing seven hits and one run in 8 1/3 innings. However, it was a bit of an adventure as he totaled six walks and eight strikeouts. The control problems were enough to take him out of the picture for the Opening Day roster, and he elected to exercise the opt-out in his contract in hopes of latching on with another club.
However, he wasn’t able to find another major league job and re-signed with the Braves on a minor league deal on April 3. He spent all of April working at the alternate site and then made his debut for Gwinnett on May 4, where he walked one and struck out three in a scoreless inning. The Braves selected his contract three days later. However, his debut did not go well. Edwards retired just one batter while allowing three hits and three runs against the Phillies. He was designated for assignment the next day and opted for free agency two days later, ending his tenure with the Braves.
Edwards signed with Toronto on May 14 and appeared in six games allowing eight hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings. The Blue Jays released him on August 29 and he signed with the White Sox two days later and finished the season at Triple-A. He totaled -0.2 fWAR for his 5 2⁄3 major league innings in 2021.
Carl Edwards Jr. 2021 Stats
|2 Tms - 7||5.2||19.4||9.7||11.12||9.52||5.41|
What went right? / What went wrong?
Not much went right during his time with the Braves. He arrived at a time when the Braves were shuffling arms through their bullpen and didn’t have a lot of flexibility. His walk rate has always been Edwards’ biggest issue and it continued to hamper him in 2021.
Road to the Title
As his lone appearance for the Braves came in a blowout, with him turning a 9-2 deficit into an 11-2 deficit before being relieved by Jacob Webb, Edwards didn’t really cost the Braves any meaningful WPA or cWPA. We’re now three player reviews in, and each one has had their best cWPA effort for the team (or, in Edwards’ case, his only effort for the team) come in a loss.
Outlook for 2022
Edwards’ fastball velocity was up in 2021 despite dealing with an oblique injury while with Toronto and Chicago. He’s just turned 30 and his big arm will likely lead to another opportunity next spring.