What We Talk About When We Talk About Ubaldo

Looks anxious.

For the last six starts, Ubaldo's actually been sort of great. From Bastian's blog:

It’s the first time since June 24-July 19, 2011 — not too far before he was traded from Colorado to Cleveland — that Jimenez has logged at least 40 innings over six starts. During that stretch, he went 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA, 41 strikeouts, 12 walks and 32 hits allowed.

"I think everybody would take a guy that every five days is going to give you a chance to win, Acta said. That's what he's done here the last six outings. He’s pitching like a No. 2 or No. 1 guy right now."

Jimenez' five June starts stand out against the rest of his season line (even his start on Monday); they're a contrast in quality. He still walked too many, but his K rate increased substantially. Both his SO/9 and SO/BB for June would make him the SP team leader overall were they his season rates, although that's a bit of a silly way to approach things. At any rate, he deserves credit for that 8.9 in the June line; he did face Houston Pittsburgh (first and second in Baseball in strikeouts), but he also faced New York, Saint Louis, and Detroit, all teams that avoid K's regularly.

April/March 2 1 .667 4.50 4 4 24.0 22 12 12 3 14 0 13 3 4.9 0.93
May 3 3 .500 6.75 6 6 32.0 36 27 24 5 28 0 20 4 5.6 0.71
June 2 2 .500 2.78 5 5 32.1 25 10 10 4 11 0 32 1 8.9 2.91
July 0 1 .000 3.52 1 1 7.2 8 3 3 1 4 2 4 1 4.7 1.00
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/4/2012.

Jimenez was obviously disappointing when he arrived in Cleveland last year, but his first three months of 2012 were something else altogether. Compare the above table to his 2012 month by month:

April/March 0 1 6.75 3 3 16.0 14 13 12 3 7 0 14 7.9 2.00
May 0 4 5.45 6 6 34.2 33 22 21 1 23 3 31 8.0 1.35
June 3 2 2.45 6 6 40.1 37 16 11 3 9 1 33 7.4 3.67
July 3 2 4.78 6 6 32.0 34 17 17 3 12 1 40 11.3 3.33
August 2 1 5.56 6 6 34.0 43 25 21 6 11 0 38 10.1 3.45
Sept/Oct 2 3 4.60 5 5 31.1 25 18 16 1 16 0 24 6.9 1.50
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/4/2012.

You don't have to go much further than the K and BB totals to see that the Ubaldo of 2012 is a different brand of putrid than last year's version. Ubaldo has always been extremely difficult to parse, and he still is—I'm glad he worked it out for June, as the Indians needed someone to steady the ship (repeatedly) last month. However, I'm not convinced we're not just seeing a patch of decent luck. Ubaldo's velocity isn't coming back up considerably and his delivery still looks crazy, with that significant pause as he jabs his right arm towards the ground. Sustaining his recent success would indicate to me that Ubaldo has gotten a bit cagier, figured out how to gut it out with the stuff he currently has; it's not very indicative of a return to ace status, which is now two years in the rearview, unless you think he can be an ace with his current stuff.

At the same time, both Pomeranz and White are in the tall weeds. Pomeranz just spent a month in the minors at the Rockies' direction, and control still looks like a significant problem. White, on the other hand, really struggled in the majors and is now back down trying to find some new tricks. Point being, this trade could end up like a lot of blockbusters: more bluster than buster.

It's also incredibly easy to forget that Ubaldo is not even a full year older than Masterson and, once you know there's an ace inside of a pitcher, as long as he hasn't suffered significant injury, that pitcher is probably in there somewhere. Jimenez 2013/14 options ($5.75M and $8M) are likely to be no-brainers and, if we're lucky, his recent improvement continues.

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