Jackson Jobe’s debut at Double A, which long has been regarded as the big leagues’ waiting room, went smoothly Sunday in a game his Erie SeaWolves dropped, 1-0, to Richmond at UPMC Park.
Jobe was brilliant: six innings, four hits, no runs, no walks, six strikeouts. He threw 76 pitches, 58 for strikes.
Jobe’s fastball was consistently in the 96-97 mph range and topped out at 98 — standard velocities for a 21-year-old, right-handed pitcher who two years ago was the third-overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.
“A good one, for sure — it was a lot of fun,” Jobe said during a postgame phone conversation. “I don’t think I ever meet the standard I set for myself, but it was hard to be mad about the outing today.
“I threw a few pitches I didn’t execute the way I might have wanted. But, obviously, this was my first Double-A start, and I definitely was focused.
“Six scoreless. Tough to draw it up any better than that.”
For another huge reason Jobe could be pleased that a Sunday game in mid-September had gone so tidily: He missed the season’s first three months with lower-back inflammation that, at one point, might have canceled all of 2023.
But he was back in three months, throwing at low-Single A Lakeland, then getting a bump to high-A West Michigan, where he continued to pitch so powerfully that he became a natural choice to help the SeaWolves as they ran short of pitchers ahead of Tuesday’s playoff round (best two of three games), also against Richmond.
Jobe started eight games for the high-A Whitecaps, worked 40 innings, had a 3.60 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP, and struck out 54. He walked all of three batters in those 40 innings.
Sunday’s game was little different.
He gave up leadoff singles in the first, second, and sixth innings. He allowed a two-out single in the fifth. But that was it as he refused to yield a walk, striking out a half-dozen batters. Three came on swinging punch-outs, two were called, and another came on an 0-2 count when a Richmond hitter committed a clock violation.
“A few on the slider, a few on the change-up, and a couple on my fastball,” Jobe said of the six whifs. “It was pretty diverse.”
Although there has been no formal announcement, it is expected Jobe will head for Arizona in two weeks as part of the Tigers’ requested eight-player roster in the Arizona Fall League.
Jobe’s lack of innings during the season’s first half make an AFL assignment convenient, as well as potentially valuable, for a pitcher the Tigers could bring to Detroit as early as sometime in 2024.
Lynn Henning is a freelance writer and retired Detroit News sports reporter.