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In “CJ” We Trust

Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. had a lil something for the Nationals’ Bryce Harper

Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. had a lil something for the Nationals’ Bryce Harper (John L. Alexander)

WRIGLEY FIELD-- "Harper better hope he isn't my last batter the next time I face him." said Carl Edwards Jr. just one day after Nationals stud Bryce Harper hit a 3-run BOMB in the bottom of the 7th inning to tie the game at 3 and help Washington pull off a thrilling 6-3 win over the Cubs to tie their best of 5 NLDS series at 1 game a piece. Harper returned from a stint on the DL with left knee bursitis and wasn't looking like the normal "B-Harp" until “CJ” left a 3-1 curveball hanging in his wheelhouse.

"I just knew he was going to throw a curveball in the dirt. Once I saw the spin on the ball I knew it was mine," Harper said. Bryce admired the home run from the batter's box as it went into the right field upper deck. "I missed my pitch...simple as that. I bet I won't miss next time," Edwards said.

Fans and analysts alike questioned Joe Maddon's decision (like they know any better) on leaving Edwards in to face Harper. CJ got him to pop out to Javier Baez the night before so it was the perfect situation again for him to show and prove. "CJ was the right man for the job and he will get the call again. If he makes his pitch, we get out of that inning and who knows what happens after that," says Cubs skipper Joe Maddon.

Fast forward to Game 3 Monday afternoon; Top of the 8th with the game tied at 1 and the top of the Nationals lineup is up. Edwards gets the call! Leadoff man Trea Turner (0-11 in the series) grounds out to Ben Zobrist (who looked like #ELMaZO after a diving stop) for the 1st out.

HARPER COMES TO THE PLATE!...and CJ gets his chance at revenge.

He wastes no time. First pitch fastball- foul. Second pitch fastball- ball. Third pitch fastball- foul. Fourth pitch fastball- ball. At this point I'm sure Harp is anticipating the good ole deuce like he caught the other night. Edwards had a different approach this time around. ALL HEAT. Fifth pitch fastball- Harper goes down swinging. Payback!

Joe Maddon knows what the Cubs have in Edwards Jr. "He's got a tremendous talent and he came back to face the same part of the batting order and did it again, just a little bit better tonight. Just did not make the mistake. I'm really happy for him, seriously, because that's something you don't want a kid to carry with him too far. He's a big part of our future."

For CJ, it's quite simple. Since he was drafted in the 48th round (which no longer exists) of the 2011 MLB draft, he's had a piece of paper above his locker that he refers to as he prepares for his outings. Whether it's situational or he comes in to a clean inning, the mental approach is still the same. "First pitch strike, four pitches or less to a hitter, get the leadoff guy out and no more than 15 pitches per inning. Think about it. If I can do that and get some innings with 9-11 pitches, If I was a starter I could still be under 100 pitches through 9."

He doesn't lack a bit of confidence. CJ held opponents to a .134 batting avg which was the lowest in the major league. That's HUGE and he didn't even know it when I mentioned it to him. "I take pride in coming in to those pressure situations as a young player. I refer back to last year when I was coming in in those spots. It led to where I'm at today."


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