The SF Giants bullpen has been one of the worst in baseball as they have posted a 5.84 ERA in 2023. However, that unit could soon receive a boost as Luke Jackson has begun a rehab assignment, meaning that a return is imminent barring a setback.
The SF Giants bullpen is set to receive a boost as veteran reliever is nearing return
The Giants signed Jackson to a two-year, $11.5 million contract in the offseason. This includes a $7 million team option for 2025 with a $2 million buyout, so his contract carries a cap hit of $5.75 million for the first two years of the deal. He along with Taylor Rogers (three years, $33 million) represented the two significant additions to the bullpen this past winter.
The right-handed hurler underwent Tommy John surgery in April of 2022. When he signed the deal, the Giants were expecting that he was going to miss the first two months of the year, so he was transferred to the 60-day injured list when the season opened up.
Prior to sustaining the injury, Jackson had a career-year in 2021 as he recorded a 1.98 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, and a 2.41 SO/W ratio in 71 appearances. He was on the same team as Joc Pederson with an Atlanta Braves team that won its first championship in 25 years.
That year was, by far, his best season since debuting with the Texas Rangers in 2015. The right-handed hurler flashes a mid-90's four-seam fastball that he pairs with a slider and an occasional curveball. The slider has generally been his most effective pitch and opposing hitters recorded just a .162 batting average against it two seasons ago.
There has been a noticeable spike in Jackon's slider usage, reaching as high as 53.6 percent in 2019. The change in pitch mix has typically led to better bottom-line results including his standout 2021 campaign.
The 31-yera-old recorded a scoreless outing in his first rehab appearance with the San Jose Giants. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle shares that Jackson's rehab assignment might be relatively short:
That is an encouraging sign for a pitcher returning from major surgery. The earliest he can be activated is May 29. Though, it generally takes time for pitchers to get back in the swing of things once they return. Nonetheless, the Giants need more bullpen depth, so his return will be a welcomed sight.