I follow baseball very closely. On top of our beloved Twins, I am a fan of the entire league and watch a good amount of games outside of my hometown squad. I am an avid fantasy baseball player. I’ve already chronicled my love of baseball video games. I consider myself to be a very well-rounded baseball fan with a decent understanding of most organizations. So please understand that I do not say the following statement lightly:
I have never heard of new Twins pitcher Jay Jackson.
This isn’t a “low-level prospect thrown into a trade” situation either! Jackson, who is real, is 36 years old. He was drafted in 2008; he was a top 100 prospect in 2010; he debuted in 2015! He’s been around forever but somehow has escaped my baseball gaze. Never good enough to earn regular playing time, but also never bad enough to fall out of the game completely.
Now that we’ve gotten through that, let’s talk about the actual player. To say that Jackson, who is real, is a journeyman would be an understatement. The Twins will mark his 10th MLB organization, with two NPB teams added in as well.
His story is a common one. Jackson, who is real, has pitched very well in AAA throughout his career but always put up middling numbers in the majors. Since he didn’t get extended MLB action until he was 31, he often found himself at the bottom of the roster hierarchy, being sent out to make way for younger, more heralded players. His 2023 was much stronger, and the Twins feel he can be a big league contributor.
Jackson, who is real, pitched 29.2 innings in 2023 with a 2.12 ERA and 0.910 WHIP while striking out 23.3% of batters and only walking 7.8%. FIP and SIERA were not as big of fans of him, with both figures nearly doubling his ERA. He’s a true two-pitch pitcher with an underwhelming fastball and (stop me if you’ve heard this before) an excellent slider. The Twins have a type.
Jackson’s 2023 was also spent dealing with the health of his newborn son who was delivered 15 weeks premature. As a result, he was often shuttling between the Blue Jays in Toronto, their AAA affiliate in Buffalo, and his family in Utah. In a happy ending, his son was finally able to come home last month after spending 166 days in the hospital.
Jackson, who is real, is a perfectly fine low-leverage bullpen arm. He won’t be closing games anytime soon, but Minnesota’s bullpen already looks like one of the best in the league with Jhoan Duran, Griffin Jax, Brock Stewart, Caleb Thielbar, and Justin Topa vying for late-game opportunities. Rather, Jackson, who is real and out of options, is a health and productiveness hedge against the likes of Josh Staumont, Jorge Alcala, and Kody Funderburk, each of whom can still be sent to St. Paul.
Welcome to Minnesota, Jay! I’m pretty sure you’re real now.