The Pittsburgh Pirates made a relatively small acquisition by getting Andre Jackon from the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he has one pitch that could make him an interesting arm
On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired right-handed pitcher Andre Jackson from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jackson hasn’t pitched very much in the major leagues, only throwing 39 innings across the last three seasons. When he has pitched, he hasn’t been too effective, owing up to a 4.15 ERA, 4.41 FIP, and 1.38 WHIP. He has a solid 7.6% walk rate, though a mediocre 20.5% strikeout rate, and 1.38 HR/9.
Although acquiring Jackson is likely more of a depth move than anything else, as he’ll report to Triple-A Indy, Jackson does have a pitch in his arsenal that stands out as one that could make him an underrated acquisition by the Pirates. That pitch is his slider, with metrics making it a promising offering.
Jackson has changed the way he throws his slider this year. In 2021, his slider averaged out with about 57% active spin, then had a 62% active spin rate in 2022. However, this year, his slider’s active spin rate is just 32%. Jackson also averaged about 2150 RPM on his slider in 2021-2022 but now sits with 2313 RPM.
Jackson’s slider has much more gyro spin, which is why his active spin rate has decreased so much. Gyro spin looks like a spiral on a football, and this major change has helped Jackson gain a lot more movement on his slider.
In 2022, Jackson’s slider had 24.8 inches of vertical drop and 1.1 inches of horizontal break. 2021 showed similar numbers with 27.4 inches of drop and 1.8 inches of break. However, in 2023, he's had 30.5 inches of vertical movement and 3.3 inches of horizontal break.
What makes this extremely promising is that the Pirates have done well with fully developing sliders this year. The Pirates have four players in the top 20 in terms of run value for sliders. That includes Johan Oviedo, Roansy Contreras, Vince Velasquez, and Jose Hernandez. All are at -7 or better. That gives the Pirates the most players at the top of the run value leaderboard for sliders out of any other team. The Pirates also have four more pitchers whose sweepers have held opponents to a sub-.300 wOBA, including Rich Hill, Mitch Keller, Colin Holderman, and Yohan Ramirez.
While Jackson is a depth pick-up, his slider brings potential as a pitch the Bucs could work into a reliable offering, one that could help him potentially breakout. He’ll go to Triple-A for now, so let’s see if the Pirates can work their slider magic and sharpen Jackson into a guy to watch.