Ubaldo Jimenez: 7 Observations from His First Start as a Cleveland Indian

Geordy BoverouxCorrespondent IIAugust 6, 2011

Ubaldo Jimenez: 7 Observations from His First Start as a Cleveland Indian

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    A new era has begun in Cleveland, the era of Ubaldo Jimenez.

    But will this era be noteworthy, or just a footnote of someone else's era?

    For that one start is not enough to determine, but that doesn't mean we can't start to critique the newest member of the Tribe right away.

    Possibly being the biggest name to move at the trade deadline, Jimenez arrives on the shores of Lake Eerie with expectations higher than the mountains he came from.

     


His Velocity Really Is Down

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    One of the largest question marks on Ubaldo Jimenez was his diminished velocity. His fastball averaged 96-97 miles per hour in his spectacular 2010 campaign, yet has only been averaging just over 94 miles per hour in 2011.

    Despite the switch to the American League, Jimenez's velocity is still not what it was last year. While I don't have the official metrics, he mostly seemed to be sitting in the 94-95 MPH range. There were numerous times when he hit 96, and even topped out at 98 on one fastball, but the speed on his fastball had dipped from last year.

    Still, throwing a baseball in the mid-90s is nothing to scoff at. Jimenez was throwing in triple digit heat in Arlington Texas and it can be tough to maintain stamina and repeat mechanics in such weather.

    I don't expect him to get his average close to 97 again, but he should still throw the ball hard enough that hitters will struggle to catch up with it.

His Control Is Shaky

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    98 pitches through five innings is not pretty. Managers expect better than that from their fifth starter, yet that's exactly what Jimenez did in his first start as a member of the Tribe. 

    Jimenez then came out for the sixth, where he threw 10 more pitches without recording an out.

    In total, the 27-year-old walked three batters, but came dangerously close to walking more than that as he found himself in three ball counts throughout the night. 

    He only had a single one-two-three inning--the fourth--and kept racking up pitches as he struggled with the strike zone.

    Jimenez still finished with a strong seven strikeouts in five innings, but could have lasted longer if he could have pounded the strike zone more.

He Has a Very Deep Repotoire

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    Jimenez definitely has the stuff to be a front-line pitcher in the big leagues.

    While he heavily relied on his fastball throughout the night, Jimenez also mixed in his slider and changeup well and flashed a deadly curveball.

    The Texas hitters were unable to figure out how to even touch his curve, as he recorded two of his seven strikeouts with the pitch.

He Tried to Do Too Much

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    Jimenez is definitely an emotional guy. 

    He admitted that in his last start as a Colorado Rockie he had his mind focused on the impending trade deadline instead of the game, which caused him to give up four runs in his only inning of work.

    With so many criticizing Jimenez and assuming he might already be on the downside of his career, he definitely wanted to silence those critics early.

    In an effort to dazzle Cleveland fans, he kept trying to get almost every batter to swing and miss instead of pitching to contact which the other members of the Tribe rotation have achieve success with.

    Jimenez has a ton of potential, but he needs Indian fans to accept him instead of criticizing the trade in order for him to be the best pitcher he can.

Acta Will Work Him into the Ground

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    I have criticized Manny Acta for only one thing this season: the way he handles his pitching staff.

    So many times this year a Tribe pitcher has had a solid outing, and Acta tries to squeeze one more inning out of them.

    It never works.

    This happened again with Jimenez. After laboring through five innings against one of the best lineups in the American League, Acta put Jimenez out in the sixth despite the fact he had already thrown 98 pitches in triple-digit heat.

    With Jimenez's strong track record, I have the ugly feeling that Acta will overwork his newest toy.

    I can see a situation much like the 2008 Brewers coming out of this. When the Brewers acquired CC Sabathia at the 2008 trade deadline, they made Sabathia pitch as much as possible as he led them to the playoffs.

    Having Jimenez carry the Indians to the playoffs would be nice, but risking the next three seasons we have him for just for a 2011 playoff birth would be the wrong move.

The Indians Are Excited to Have Him

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    Despite only logging five innings as an Indian, Jimenez has already made a huge impact for the club, in the clubhouse.

    The Indians offensive surge in the first three innings show that they have high hopes in Jimenez. 

    Cleveland looked like an energized club, chasing the Ranger's starter Derek Holland from the game in only the second inning.

    Despite being a pitcher, Jimenez has been the offensive spark the Indians have been searching for since June.

He Is NOT the Indian's New Ace

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    That honor still belongs to Justin Masterson.

    While Jimenez has the potential to be the ace of this club, he has not pitched like that. I'm not basing this on his only start in an Indians uniform, but rather his entire season.

    Jimenez walks too many batters and does not go deep into games, something Masterson does as well as anyone in the American League.

    Jimenez does strikeout enough batters to be a front-line starter, but he will just have to settle as a very strong number two in Cleveland and let Masterson take the spotlight he deserves.

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