You watch Edwin Jackson perform the way he did in Thursday's White Sox home opener and one obvious question comes to mind ...
With pitching at such a premium, why in the world is this guy pitching for his fourth team in as many seasons?
Did the Rays not care for Jackson and his 14 wins in 2008? Why did the Tigers trade him after he went 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA in 2009? And what might the Diamondbacks been thinking when they traded Jackson (who had a no-hitter on June 25) to the Sox last July?
"I remember facing him," said A.J. Pierzynski, who had the pleasure of catching Jackson in the White Sox' 5-1 win over Tampa Bay before 38,579 at U.S. Cellular Field. "You didn't want him to get ahead of you because then it was, 'Oh boy, I've got to try to hit this slider.' It's as good as any slider there is."
And it was on display Thursday, much to the delight of the capacity crowd.
"Any time I'm able to go out and get in an early rhythm and get outs quick and attack the strike zone, I like my odds," Jackson said after establishing a career-high with 13 strikeouts, the most ever in a Sox home opener. "I have trouble in games when I'm behind in the counts and have to throw strikes.
"There weren't too many times where I had to do that, and when I did, I was able to make a quality pitch for an out."
How good was Jackson?
Of his 13 Ks, 12 came on the slider and all of them were swinging. That's something you might never see again.
I went over to the visitor's clubhouse afterward to get veteran designated hitter Johnny Damon's take on Jackson's big day.
While he was still stinging from just missing a 2-run homer to right field off Jackson in the eighth inning that would have tied the game at 3-3, Damon raved about the White Sox' starter.
"He was really good," said Damon, who went down swinging in the first and third. "We couldn't pick up his slider, at all. And then when we started looking for it, his fastball's good enough to blow by you. He's been a beast since he's been up here.
"He can throw a lot of pitches, everyone's always said he has good stuff. But he's turned into a pitcher. He's real smart out there now."
White Sox general manager Kenny Williams wasn't looking overly smart when he traded prized pitching prospect Daniel Hudson to Arizona for the well-traveled Jackson right before last season's trade deadline.
Jackson pitched very well for the Sox when he arrived, going 4-2 with a 3.24 ERA in 11 starts to close out 2010.
This season, the 27-year-old Jackson, who was born in Germany and is the son of a retired Army sergeant, looks like he's finally found a home.
"It's a great group of fans out here," Jackson said. "It's a great fan base. If you are lucky enough to fall in place to pitch the home opener, it's always exciting. It's more exciting when you can come out and give them a great game to watch."