Chicago Cubs: Will Joe Maddon eventually stop trusting CJ Edwards?

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 7: C.J. Edwards /

The Chicago Cubs badly need CJ Edwards to get his act together. If he can’t, he might finally manage to squander Joe Maddon‘s trust.

Regarding last night’s thrilling 9-8 Chicago Cubs victory over the Washington National’s to advance them to their third straight NLCS, I would like to point out a few things.

First off, Patrick Mannelly may be a prophet. If I recall correctly, he said this in the third inning.

Second, four runs off the incredible Max Scherzer in the fifth inning? Why not? That’s just October baseball for you, I guess.

While I don’t believe that many Cubs fans weren’t quietly, or not so quietly, losing their minds about falling in a 4-1 hole in the second inning, you have to have some comfort in a team that can rise to the occasion like that time and again.

And lastly, for those of you frustrated with Joe Maddon‘s decision-making, perhaps you noticed something to your liking in last night’s elimination game.

Specifically, Maddon held a very tight leash on the up-and-down Carl Edwards Jr. last night. When he walked his first hitter on five pitches, he pulled him from the game.

Now, maybe that’s just a circumstance of this being an elimination game for the Chicago Cubs. Especially in that scenario, there’s no obligation to ride with Edwards when you can go to Jose Quintana and then Wade Davis, who pulled off a crazy seven-out save.

But to my mind, it bears watching going forward in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers and, hopefully, the World Series. Could Edwards finally be nearing the end of his rope with Maddon in important situations?

In CJ We Trust?

Again, looking at this situation, perhaps we can’t use this particular game as an example of how Maddon will use Edwards going forward. This was a winner-take-all game, and you simply can’t take too many chances.

Still, the fact that Maddon wouldn’t commit to riding out Edwards’ struggles in a tough situation is telling. Plus, he similarly left him in to face just two hitters in Game 4 after he walked both of them.

Though he was good in Games 1 and 3, his electric stuff doesn’t help anyone when he misses his spots. In fact, he hasn’t managed a single out in his last two appearances.

However, the catch with Edwards remains that the Chicago Cubs don’t have many other super-reliable options besides him.

Do you really want to try Justin Wilson in the eighth inning instead of him right now?

I understand the impulse as people just want to see something, anything different from the roller coaster that Edwards puts them on. Plus, Maddon put Wilson on the playoff roster, so he must trust him somewhat despite his struggles this year, right?

Judging from their usage of him, that still looks like a “no”. I know they wanted another lefty arm in the ‘pen, but…yeah, that seems like a waste of space, doesn’t it?

Maybe you’d prefer Pedro Strop? He did have a few solid appearances in this series before surrendering a walk and a run last night. Perhaps that’s worth keeping an eye on.

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In any case, that’s more feasible than asking Wade Davis to go for six-out saves until this is over.

But the uncomfortable truth here is that the Chicago Cubs need Edwards, who appeared in all five NLDS games. Even despite his struggles, he’s arguably still no worse than their third-best relief pitcher independent of matchups. And with the so-so state of the bullpen, the Cubs can’t necessarily afford to just shelve him completely.

However, if he keeps struggling to find the strike zone, will Joe Maddon ultimately throw in the towel and replace him? At this point, you can’t rule that out. These games are too important to mess around with.

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With a possible second straight World Series on the line, the Chicago Cubs will definitely turn to Edwards against the Dodgers. But if his issues continue as the postseason goes on, the pressure will mount to make a change.

For his sake, and the Cubs’, I hope he figures out what his problems are before that becomes necessary.