Ill Communication Regarding Legality of Carl Edwards Jr.’s Delivery

I hope they’ve got DoorDash or Uber Eats or whatever near the Cubs’ hotel in Atlanta because Carl Edwards Jr. needs a new delivery. Or maybe it’s just a matter of calling the tried-and-true pizza man, since we’re really talking about getting back to the old delivery in this case.

That’s because, as we learned during the woeful Rangers series, the little Kenley Jansen-esque pause prior to striding has been deemed illegal. Rangers manager Chris Woodward complained about it in Texas, the first anyone had heard publicly about a problem, but it turns out the Cubs have known about it for at least a week.

The issue, Joe Maddon explained, was that Edwards’ foot was hitting the ground twice, something the manager mentioned other players have done before. But this whole business has sort of a funny smell to it, somewhere between slightly overripe and downright rancid. The difference, of course, is timing. And that’s where all the questions come in.

The first matter of timing is with the change in Edwards’ delivery, which seems to have morphed from a mere pause when we first learned about it to a full stop with his lead foot coming all the way down. The former is something we see with both Jensen and Clayton Kershaw, not to mention guys like Johnny Cueto or even Yu Darvish for a while last season. But the moment Edwards began to make a full stop, which is sort of an odd change, you’d think someone would have said something.

That heads-up certainly wouldn’t have come from another team, since the rules of gamesmanship mandate an opponent hold such advantageous information back until the games count. What about an umpire, though, or someone from the league office? Perhaps Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy could have put in a call or done a little research. Maybe he did and Rob Manfred was on a conference call taking bids from pitching clock manufacturers.

The next matter of timing is when the Cubs were informed that the move was illegal, which we learned Monday took place prior to the start of the regular season. And based on what Edwards told the media after Monday’s game, in which he displayed higher velocity with his old mechanics, he was unaware of any issues prior to the conclusion of camp.

“It would have been nice if they would have told me in spring training,” Edwards quipped. “But it is what it is.”

So if we connect the dots here, we’re left with a situation in which Maddon may have just opted to let things play out. Not until Monday in Atlanta did Edwards ditch the pause, which a pessimist might believe indicates that Maddon and/or Hottovy hadn’t warned him until then.

More likely, though, is that Edwards and the Cubs were going with the burned-out tail light strategy. You get pulled over and you’re informed one of your lights is out, but your life is just too busy to replace it. Until you get pulled over again, anyway. Edwards may have chosen to be defiant or simply felt he’d squeezed out too much toothpaste to put it back in the tube.

It may just be that nothing was said earlier because he hadn’t been doing anything illegal when he just paused, hence no reason to get approval. The calculus changed once he started touching his foot, but it apparently wasn’t brought up to or by league officials at the time. And there’s a difference between bringing the foot low enough to graze the mound and flat-out pausing, which is what Edwards did in Texas.

Maddon was told and he likely passed the info to Edwards, who’d already gotten comfortable with the new mechanics and had too little time to change back.

In the end, the move back to the old delivery may be a blessing in disguise. Or maybe it’s not even wearing a mask at all, since Edwards’ issues were readily visible during his first appearance Saturday in Arlington. The Stringbean Slinger reached 94 mph only once and sat right at 93 mph as he allowed a home run, a single, and two walks while failing to record an out.

On Monday, he was touching 96 mph and sat nearly 94.5 across 18 four-seamers in a much cleaner frame that included just one walk. I don’t want to minimize the forced change, since pitching mechanics aren’t something to be trifled with, but the very early results say getting back to what he used to do may be better for Edwards in the end.

You have to hope it wasn’t just a matter of using pent-up frustration from his disastrous first outing or anger at having to abandon the style he’d been using all spring, since that fuel burns hot and short. The lower-leverage situation didn’t hurt, either. But for the Cubs to find success now and throughout the season, they need Edwards performing at a high level, regardless of what his left foot does as part of his delivery.

Hey, maybe he should ask Daniel Day Lewis for advice on how to bring out the best in himself the rest of the season.

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