Watching Ubaldo Jimenez is strange.
At times he looks like a power pitcher, inducing strikeouts one after the other. At other times, he seems like an efficiency pitcher, inducing ground ball double plays when his W is on the line. The type of pitcher he is though, doesn't seem to matter any more.
What does matter, is that he is helping to keep an average, if not below average at times, Rockies club in the NL West race. As a fellow Bleacher Reporter put it, the Rockies are the definition of "Meh" this year. They don't look good, but they don't look Mendoza either.
What the Rockies need, aside from an offense, is a quality start from a rotation that largely seems lacking quality most of the time. Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook have been pretty consistent at home, but anything but consistent on the road. Yea, it's been pretty tough to deal with the loss of the other "supposed to be great" story this year in Jorge De La Rosa. The 29 year old De La Rosa helped the Rox a great deal in the second half of the 2009 season. winning 16 games. This year, the nasty injury to his hand has kept him on the DL. He should return shortly and I believe, if he can rehab well, be another reliable starter for a team that needs them.
Why do the Rockies need quality starters? Because so far in the 2010 season, the Rockies are 0-23 when trailing after 7 innings. Their inability to rally is a sure sign that they need their starting pitching to keep goose eggs on the board. If this were Boston, LA, NY Yankees or Tampa Bay, It may not be a huge problem to have rough outings from the staff, but the Rockies offense just can't seem to recover.
That's why Ubaldo Jimenez is so important. Out of those 23 games they have lost after trailing in the 7th, he started in only one. That rainy crappy Denver day last weekend against Toronto when he couldn't seem to grip the ball.
Ubaldo Jimenez is Diamond in the rough for a ball club that seems terribly inconsistent. If he can continue to perform consistently at this level he may find himself the loan gunmen of this battle beaten Rockies staff. At this point it looks as if Jimenez will start at least 18 more games for the Rockies this season. Again, if he stays healthy, and if he doesn't suddenly lose his composure, that seems to be a conservative number.
He's 13-1 as of 3:30 Mountain Time on June 17th. That's the best start since Roger Clemens went 13-0 in 1986. That's pretty good company to be with. So here's the question, can Ubaldo Jimenez win the unprecedented 30 games in 2010?
No one has done it since Denny McClain in 1968 with the Tigers. 1968! It hasn't been accomplished in 42 years. But, here we are on June 17th staring at a 13-1 record, by far the lead in all of Major League Baseball. At this point, it goes without saying that Ubaldo will win at least twenty. If he lost six starts the rest of the season, conservatively, he would still be at 23 wins. Where does this ceiling end? If he maintains this pace, barring unseen circumstances, could he accomplish this feat? I don't think he will, but I won't be surprised if he does either.