CINCINNATI – Can Carl Edwards Jr. go from September debut to October factor for the Cubs – the way Brandon Finnegan did for the Royals last year and David Price did for the Rays in 2008?
“I think he’s capable of that,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who was Price’s manager when the left-hander followed five regular-season appearances (one start) with five postseason appearances that year, including two in the World Series.
“I’ve been around some young guys that have done it in the past, but you never know until you give somebody that opportunity.”
That’s why Maddon wants to use Edwards in game situations this final week of the season like he did in Tuesday’s 4-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds – when Edwards took over with one out and a runner at second in the eighth inning.
He got two quick outs to end that threat and – after a trial-by-fire first big-league at-bat against Aroldis Chapman – pitched into the ninth.
“I just wanted to see him against more hitters,” said Maddon, who took Edwards out three batters into the ninth – after a three-base error, unearned run on a grounder and walk to Joey Votto.
“He did great,” Maddon said. “We lost a ball in the lights. That’s going to happen, and he gets the next guy out. I gave him a shot at Votto, and at that point I just wanted to move it along.
“But he did wonderfully, and that was the point, to see him in that kind of a moment the latter part of the game. He did great.”
And with the possible exception of more at-bats against 100-mph closers, Edwards sounds confident he can produce going forward – as far forward as this team goes in October.
“I’m comfortable doing anything to help the team,” said Edwards, who admits Price’s sudden impact in ’08, and Finnegan’s seven-appearance contribution to the Royals’ World Series run last year has crossed his mind.
“It does actually,” he said.
“I’m not saying it’s going to happen,” Maddon said. “I’m just saying it’s something that could happen.”
Edwards, who turned 24 this month, seems settled in and he’s leaning on bullpen veterans who tell him to keep doing what got him to the big leagues and to have fun.
That last part is also what he said he saw in Price and Finnegan in their sudden-impact Octobers.
“And I’m going to follow in their footsteps. I’m going to go out there and have fun,” he said. “I know what I’m capable of doing and I know what I can do.”
He even has a pretty good idea what he can’t do after facing a Chapman fastball he said just disappears.
Maddon told Edwards not to swing when he went to the plate. And he didn’t – watching three straight balls, then three straight strikes.
“I thought about it,” he said of swinging the bat. “But when I thought about it, it was 3-2, and my leg was in the air, and the ball was in the mitt.”