2013 in Review: Ubaldo Jimenez turns his career around

Ubaldo Jimenez - David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more shocking turnarounds in recent baseball history.

Ubaldo Jimenez

Right-Handed Pitcher

Age: 29

Acquired: Trade:

Traded by the Colorado Rockies to the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later, Joseph Gardner (minors), Matt McBride and Alex White. The Cleveland Indians sent Drew Pomeranz (August 16, 2011) to the Colorado Rockies to complete the trade.

2014 Salary: Free Agent

One of the questions going into the season was whether the Indians would pick up Ubaldo Jimenez's 2014 option. After all, that option might not have been worth to the Indians, as Jimenez was coming off a season in which he was by many measures the worst full-time starting pitcher in the majors. The question after the season was whether Jimenez would possibly accept a $14.1M Qualifying Offer by the Indians to stay with them for 2014. Such was the magnitude of his turnaround that changed perspectives so much.

There was one other pitcher who similarly reinvented himself in mid-career, and that was Cliff Lee. Lee was sent down to the minors in 2007, was not placed on the post-season roster, and won the Cy Young award the next season. Jimenez did not have a good enough first half to his season to be in contention for 2013 Cy Young, but he was in many ways the best pitcher in the AL in the second half of the season:

I Split W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
1st Half 7 4 .636 4.56 19 19 0 0 0 0 98.2 94 53 50 13 53 0 94 1 0 5 433 1.490 8.6 1.77
2nd Half 6 5 .545 1.82 13 13 0 0 0 0 84.0 69 22 17 3 27 0 100 2 0 3 344 1.143 10.7 3.70
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/12/2013.

After Terry Francona was hired as manager, he and new pitching coach visited Jimenez in the Dominican Republic, with Callaway proposing some tweaks to his complicated delivery and Francona delivering more of a message of support. Both seemed to have an effect, but it wasn't apparent immediately. Jimenez pitched well in his first start of the year, but then was awful in his next two starts (6.0 IP, 14 ER). He was just ok on April 21st (5 IP, 4 ER), though it was against Houston.

2013 in Review Hub: Your destination for Let's Go Tribe's look at key prospects and players from the Indians in 2013

On April 29th, Jimenez threw 7 shutout innings in Kansas City, and for the first time in several years we saw what he was capable of if he had command of his fastball. What followed was a string of effective but short outings, in which Jimenez only allowed a run or two but left after the fifth inning. But after the All-Star break Jimenez began to pitch more efficiently, and in September, he was almost unhittable. In 41.2 September innings, he allowed just 6 earned runs and struck out 51, including a magnificent performance on the last day of the season to get the Indians into the playoffs:

That magnificent performance in the second half will get Jimenez a rather large contract, as after the Indians picked up the 2014 option on his contract, he voided the option. That clause in his contract triggered when he was traded from Colorado in 2011, and it will allow Jimenez to test the free agent market. This winter there's no Zack Greinke on the market, and with the influx of the national TV contract dollars, there will be plenty of clubs bidding on him. The fascinating thing, though, is to see how clubs value him. After all, for almost two seasons he was one of the worst pitchers in the majors. Will the bidding teams take that into account, or assume that the Ubaldo Jimenez of the second half will be the pitcher they get over the next 4-5 seasons?

Year Age Tm ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
2006 22 COL 3.52 1 7.2 5 4 3 1 3 3 145 5.9 1.2 3.5 3.5
2007 23 COL 4.28 15 82.0 70 46 39 10 37 68 112 7.7 1.1 4.1 7.5
2008 24 COL 3.99 34 198.2 182 97 88 11 103 172 118 8.2 0.5 4.7 7.8
2009 25 COL 3.47 33 218.0 183 87 84 13 85 198 136 7.6 0.5 3.5 8.2
2010 26 COL 2.88 33 221.2 164 73 71 10 92 214 161 6.7 0.4 3.7 8.7
2011 27 TOT 4.68 32 188.1 186 111 98 17 78 180 93 8.9 0.8 3.7 8.6
2011 27 COL 4.46 21 123.0 118 68 61 10 51 118 102 8.6 0.7 3.7 8.6
2011 27 CLE 5.10 11 65.1 68 43 37 7 27 62 77 9.4 1.0 3.7 8.5
2012 28 CLE 5.40 31 176.2 190 116 106 25 95 143 72 9.7 1.3 4.8 7.3
2013 29 CLE 3.30 32 182.2 163 75 67 16 80 194 114 8.0 0.8 3.9 9.6
8 Yrs 3.92 211 1275.2 1143 609 556 103 573 1172 112 8.1 0.7 4.0 8.3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/12/2013.


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