As it turns out, the last official pitch Luke Jackson threw for the Braves came on Oct. 30, 2021, in Game 4 of the World Series versus the Astros. He threw a scoreless inning, adding to a postseason performance that further endeared him to Braves fans.
Months later, with the 2022 season set to begin, Jackson required and underwent Tommy John surgery. He missed the entire season, his last before free agency.
The San Francisco Giants on Monday announced they signed Jackson to a two-year, $11.5 million contract with a club option for the 2025 season. This is tremendous news for the right-hander, who, despite missing all of 2022, received good guaranteed money over multiple seasons.
It is sad news for Braves fans. Jackson had become a fan-favorite in Atlanta, where he helped lead “The Night Shift” – the name he and others started using for the dominant Braves bullpen in 2021.
Jackson, who debuted with Texas in 2015, posted a 3.93 ERA in five seasons with the Braves before signing with San Francisco. His best season came in 2021, when he notched a 1.98 ERA over 71 appearances out of the bullpen. During the World Series run, eight of his 10 outings were scoreless appearances.
Jackson seemed positioned to be a key figure in Atlanta’s bullpen in 2022. He then fell victim to an unfortunate situation.
For a couple weeks before spring training, he experienced mild soreness in his right elbow. He believed it was improving, but after two live bullpen sessions in North Port, he told the Braves he was dealing with a dead arm.
“It was just kind of irritating,” Jackson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the time. “It was not anything I was concerned about, it wasn’t anything about anything, but I think just the team, and it being a short spring, wanted to kind of make sure it was perfect before we get into another 162. Going from the longest season you can play to the short offseason probably just gave it a little more precaution for it.”
At the time of the interview, he had resumed throwing. He was working his way back.
Eventually, he required Tommy John surgery. It ended his season and, thus, his current tenure with the Braves. There could always be a reunion in the future. But for now, Jackson is headed to San Francisco.
The Braves have lost Kenley Jansen and Jackson from their bullpen this offseason. But the grup seems to be shaping up just fine.
The Braves acquired Joe Jiménez as a late-inning reliever. They have also brought in Nick Anderson, Dennis Santana and Lucas Luetge. Jesse Chavez and Jackson Stephens are back to compete for spots. And don’t forget about Kirby Yates, who could play a more significant role this season.