Ubaldo Jimenez: Examining the Early Season Struggles of the Colorado Rockies Ace
After the first month of baseball, preseason Cy Young award candidate has looked more like a fifth starter than ace.
Many people would consider him a good buy-low candidate in fantasy leagues, assuming he's just been slapped across the face by Lady Luck, but I think there's a little more reason for concern.
His struggles are not isolated to the regular season. In spring training he showed signs of struggling—posting only nine strikeouts and seven walks in 19.1 innings. Usually, pitchers and hitters work on a specific aspect of their game which tends to lead to bad performances in such a small sample size.
But in Ubaldo's case, it could have been the early red flags.
Even with his struggles, he's certainly better than his 7.20 ERA suggests. His 5.02 FIP and 4.54 xFIP, neither of which are good, with 9.00 K/9 will tell you that.
A 57.1 left on base percentage will cause an artificially bloated ERA every time. his BABIP, another other big luck indicator stat, is only slightly higher than normal at .303—definitely not high enough to cause a huge change in FIP and xFIP.
Lastly, the third major luck stat, home run per fly ball percentage, is at 12.0 percent, up from his career 7.5 percent. Again, while a tick higher, it is not that drastic of a change and could possibly be explained.
Like in spring training, his control has been suspect. His 4.95 BB/9 has reverted back to his earlier years, although it could still just be an inflation due to small sample size.
His precipitous rise in fly ball percentage from a 31.5 percent career norm to this year's 43.9 percent is alarming. The increased probably of doubles, triples and homers has lead to a .481 slugging percentage against him.
Rumblings have began that he's is facing a lingering sore shoulder, which could help explain the biggest red flag- his significant drop in velocity.
Keep in mind, these are from Pitch F/X and there could be misclassifications between certain pitches, such as fastballs.
|Pitch||2010 Velocity||2011 Velocity||Change|
As you can see, the change in velocity is quite significant with his hard fastballs and sliders. Losing that much velocity in less than one year is alarming and those rumors of a possible shoulder issue could be true.
I would hold off expecting a rebound anytime soon. If you already a fantasy owner, perhaps you should look to trade him while he still has value to a team willing to take a chance.
If you are looking to trade for him as a possible buy-low candidate, I would hold off until his velocity returns.
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