Carl Edwards Jr. showing Cubs he can handle being thrown in the fire


MILWAUKEE — Carl Edwards Jr. is pitching in the majors in April for the first time ever but he's making the case that he's Joe Maddon's most valuable reliever.

The Cubs have a very talented bullpen that features three guys who have had a lot of experience closing games, yet Edwards and his 43 career games have earned Maddon's trust.

In the Cubs' season-opening series against the Cardinals in St. Louis, Edwards got some big outs, including preserving the 6-4 victory Thursday with a pair of strikeouts.

"I have a lot of faith in him," Maddon said. "I'll put him in any situation — hot spot or whatever you want to call it. No doubt.

"I don't want to lose the game in the sixth inning if that's the vital moment. He's the kinda guy where you say, 'CJ, we need you in the sixth,' it's not going to impact his psyche. It's not like he's not gonna be ready because you're surprising him. He'll be ready.

"He's the kinda guy you want in a big moment — a dirty moment — inning in progress and he can still hold his own and work his way through it. I like him in that moment."

Edwards attributes a lot of his success in the "dirty" moments to getting in control of his emotions and keeping his breathing in rhythm. 

That was something he spent a lot of time working on last season after getting a cup of coffee in the big leagues toward the end of 2015.

Edwards understood the mental component of the game and as he got in control of his emotions through breathing, his confidence soared. A 2.84 ERA in eight postseason games during the Cubs' World Series run certainly helped, too.

"[My confidence] is pretty much the same as it was last year," he said. "I try to stay in the middle. I don't try to get too high or anything. 

"I try to keep it as simple as possible. Just try to go out there and do what I have to do to get outs and help my team."

[CUBS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Edwards said he has a good feel for all his pitches right now and knows in a Joe Maddon bullpen, he can be called upon at any time, in any situation. 

Which is just the way he likes it.

"I feel like from last year to this year, I would be put in the fire," Edwards said. "When everything gets running and they call [down to the bullpen], I have a good feeling it could be me. I like that role — has a lot of pressure and a lot of adrenaline."

The Cubs have made sure not to overuse the 25-year-old Edwards, refusing to pitch him on back-to-back days with an eye on keeping his rail-thin frame healthy down the stretch.

But Edwards may make that a hard thing to stick by as the 2017 progresses as he proves he can be effective — and dominant — in any situation. 

Maddon pointed to Edwards' exchange with Cardinals slugger Jedd Gyorko Thursday where Edwards threw a 2-2 curveball the Cubs thought was in the zone but didn't get the call. So Edwards came right back on the full count with another curveball, this one undoubtedly a strike.

"That's the kinda stuff that you really get good — when you're able to have the confidence making that pitch," Maddon said. "Moving forward, they're writing stuff down, they got all the reports — he did this to Gyorko, etc.

"So that brings the fastball into play on a full count next time, too, so the hitter is uncertain. He just continues to develop."

Contact Us