Baltimore Orioles Sign Ubaldo Jimenez: 5 Reasons Why It's a Great Move

Zachary Ball@MLBDraftCntdwnAnalyst IFebruary 19, 2014

Baltimore Orioles Sign Ubaldo Jimenez: 5 Reasons Why It's a Great Move

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    John Gress/Getty Images

    The Baltimore Orioles added Ubaldo Jimenez, an eight-year major league veteran, to their starting rotation this week, bringing a much needed sense of accomplishment to what has shaped up to be a wholly disappointing offseason for O's fans.

    Jimenez is coming off arguably the second-best season of his career, a year spent with the Indians and one in which he redeemed himself for the first two years he spent in Cleveland, going a combined 13-21 with an ERA well over 5.00.

    Jimenez capitalized on a dominant stretch run to finish the season with a 13-9 record, a 3.30 ERA (his lowest mark since 2010) and a career-best 9.6 K/9.

    Not only does Jimenez bring a wealth of experience to the Orioles starting rotation (his 211 career starts are roughly equal to those of Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez), he brings a legitimate big league winner that has stuff worthy of "ace" status.

    There are a few more things he brings to Baltimore, though, and as noted in the following slides, each will give the O's a decent chance at reaching the playoffs for the second time in three years.

Run Support

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    It might seem like an obvious statement, but Jimenez is especially effective when given a decent amount of run support.

    He's 40-23 with a 3.50 ERA and 8.7 K/9 when he received 3-5 runs worth of support. 

    Going from a team (Cleveland) that had a young and relatively unknown roster to a squad replete with heavy hitters like Chris Davis, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters, it should be a boon to his winning percentage pitching for the O's. 

    Here's how his numbers, when receiving 3-5 runs worth of support from last year, compared with some of the other top arms in the game.

     W-LERAK/BBK/9
    Jimenez7-12.2880/299.6
    Kershaw6-11.2958/147.5
    Scherzer7-02.20112/2711.2
    Wainwright7-02.7063/117.4

     

    All stats are courtesy of Baseball Reference.

Late Season Performance

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Aside from the 2012 squad, which seemingly got better as the season wore on, the Orioles have had trouble over the past 15 years keeping up the pace as summer turns to fall.

    Last season, the team finished the first three months of the season with a combined 48-36 record. They stumbled, however, to a 38-41 record the final three months, culminating with an uneven performance in September.

    Jimenez, on the other hand, has always been a strong finisher, never more so than in 2013. He posted a 1.82 ERA after the All-Star break, and in six September/October starts went 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA and 51/7 K/BB ratio.

    Throughout his career, the numbers bear out similar results.

    His 3.47 ERA in 41 appearances in September/October is his second lowest mark in any month (3.17 in June) and his 8.8 K/9 is bested only by his 9.3 mark in August.

    Here's how Jimenez's performance over the final month-plus compares to his rotation mates.

     GW-LERAK/9WHIP
    Jimenez4115-133.478.81.265
    Tillman215-84.337.11.202
    Gonzalez106-22.705.70.995
    Chen120-45.088.01.485
    Norris239-93.528.91.359

    Also, don't forget that Jimenez also has 28 innings worth of postseason experience, more than the entire O's rotation combined.

     

    All stats are courtesy of Baseball Reference.

Performance Against National League Central

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    The Orioles play 23 games against the National League Central this season.

    Luckily for them, Jimenez has performed exceptionally well against most of that division during his career. Here are his stats against each squad Baltimore takes on in 2014.

     GW-LERAK/9WHIP
    Houston84-02.328.01.113
    Chicago51-35.637.91.875
    St. Louis82-33.338.51.204
    Cincinnati63-03.008.11.256
    Pittsburgh73-22.807.81.178
    Milwaukee63-12.638.11.220
    Total4016-93.098.11.255

    The struggle against the Cubs seem quite out of character for Jimenez, especially considering how bad the Cubs have been since he began his career.

    Needless to say, having a starter with a career 16-9 mark and 3.09 ERA in 40 starts bodes well for the team's chances against the NL Central this year.

     

     

    All stats are courtesy of Baseball Reference.

Ubaldo + Wieters = Excellence

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    Here's a quick rundown of the catchers who have caught for Jimenez during his eight-year career: Yan Gomes, Chris Iannetta, Lou Marson, Jose Morales, Miguel Olivo, Paul Phillips, Carlos Santana, Yorvit Torrealba, JD Closser, Luke Carlin and Eliezer Alfonzo.

    Together those 11 have a combined zero All-Star appearances and zero Gold Gloves.

    Current O's backstop Matt Wieters, all one of him, has two of each. He's also widely regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in all of baseball, despite being easily the largest.

    Wieters has received universal praise for the work he's put in with starters like Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, so there's no reason to think he'll have anything but a positive impact on Jimenez.

    And having a catcher with as much pop as Wieters (67 homers since 2011) has in the lineup won't hurt either.

     

     

    All stats are courtesy of Baseball Reference.

Ubaldo the Road Warrior

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    David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

    In order to last as a starter in the big leagues for eight seasons, one has to perform just as well on the road as at home, and in this area Jimenez has done very well for himself.

    In 111 starts away from home, Jimenez is 39-44 with a 4.21 ERA and 8.9 K/9. Interestingly enough, he has 106 more strikeouts on the road than he does at home, in just 23 more innings.

    While those numbers might not seem overly impressive, take into account the following table detailing the rest of the O's rotation's performance on the road, stacked up against Jimenez's.

     GPAvg IPWin %ERAK/9
    Jimenez1115.9.4704.218.9
    Tillman435.5.5164.276.7
    Gonzalez275.7.5563.506.6
    Chen285.8.4744.176.4
    Norris645.4.3335.238.4

    Yet another area where Jimenez's experience will come in handy.

     

     

    All stats are courtesy of Baseball Reference.