It is time to shake off some rust on my cerebral membrane and do a little statistical analysis of the Cleveland Indians’ newest starting pitcher, Sir Ubaldo Jimenez.
Much has been made Jimenez’s drop in performance and velocity this season, but his K/9 has remained pretty consistent with his career high and better than his career average:
Career high (2010): 8.69
This year: 8.63
Despite that K rate this season, Jimenez’s ERA rose to 4.46 with the Rockies this year. However, ERA is a team dependent stat; the defense behind a pitcher can greatly affect an ERA. This season, Jimenez’s Fielding Independent ERA (FIP) is 3.54. His xFIP (which adjusts for expected HR/Fly ball) is 3.56, the best in his career. This strongly suggests that the defense behind him let him down greatly this year, or he was a victim of bad luck. Unfortunately, despite what the announcers on STO say, the Indians are a bad defensive team, although they improved by shitcanning Cabrera, Buck, etc. Still, a drop in velocity isn’t something that can be waved away, even if the K rates remain high.
Another thing that stands out is Jimenez’s LOB% percentage (strand rate) of 66%. Starting pitchers with very high LOB% (80+%) almost always have unsustainable strand rates. Starting pitchers with very low LOB% (65% and below) have stand rates that usually increase to about 69%-74%, thus improving their ERA. Jimenez is right on the cusp, so the Indians’ bullpen could assist Jimenez’s strand rate. The fly in this ointment is that Jimenez only had two bequeathed runners score this season, so the runs scored were his doing. However, Rockies’ manager Jim Tracy is a well documented moron, so there is a very good chance that Tracy did not use his pen effectively in bailing out Jimenez.
Jimenez also received poor run support while he was in the game (3.8/27 outs while he was in the game). Perhaps he felt he had to be perfect, which led to nibbling around the strike zone, which would explain his command problems early in the season. Unfortunately, the poor run support is not likely to change with the Indians.
The other thing that should be looked at is what impact Jimenez will have on the Indians’ playoff chances this year. Jimenez immediately removes one of the Indians’ starting implosions, but he is only going to make about ten or eleven starts for the Indians this season. Even if he returns to his career highs this year, that is only going to prove the Indians with about four more quality starts than what they would receive the replaced gas can. Plus, a quality start is certainly no guarantee of a victory with the Indians anemic offense.
Most of Jimenez’s value for the Tribe will come after this year. Whether he can propel the Indians into the playoffs this year remains to be seen. The Indians aren’t going anywhere unless the offense improves, and Antonetti’s Savior, Fukudome, didn’t really address that.