Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

In honor of Ubaldo’s start tonight against the Orioles, The Clown Show is proud to publish an article by a guest contributer, MachadosMittens. Written on 6/18/13.

It was three in the morning.

I had just polished off my fourth Shed Mountain Ale (it was the next day that I realized they’re 7.4% alcohol) and I was primed to make some bad decisions. I scanned through my phone, rejecting exotic names that could easily be mistaken for Latin supermodels. Even in my altered state, I couldn’t bring myself to enter into any kind of relationship with them.

Not again. Not after what they’ve all done to me before.

And then I came upon a name that I had never called. You know. It’s like the girl in High School who you always knew had a crush on you, but she was always a little too pudgy, or a little too shy and then she comes back from college and you and your buddies all pause, look at each other and then at the same time you all say it: Wow. I hope she’s still available.

I am not however, actually talking about a girl.

Instead, I’m talking about a 29 year old man from the Dominican Republic who stands six feet and five inches tall. His name is Ubaldo Jimenez and as a well educated baseball geek and son of a Cleveland Indians fan, it took every bit of alcohol in my system to pull the trigger on this one. Because come on, signing Ubaldo in fantasy is almost as bad as the Indians signing him in reality. Except that I don’t owe 8 million dollars a year for my mistake, and don’t feel bad dropping him immediately after this start.

A brief reminder:

Ubaldo Jimenez had three good years in Colorado in which he somehow had a HR/9 of only 0.4, a k/9 of at least 8.5 and a fastball that could touch 100 MPH. And yes, he looked like a Cy Young Winner for the first half of 2010, but things quickly changed and the end of that year and 2011 painted a really ugly picture. His home run rate suddenly doubled. His average fastball velocity lost more than 2 mph and while his FIP somehow stayed in the mid 3’s, his wild mechanics and ridiculously long pause in his delivery left every indication that at 27, his stats and career were about to implode. But the Indians ignored all that and gambled, trading a bevy of young talent (though none of whom have yet to be anything more than a prospect) for a man who was already on the wrong side of his physical prime.

After moving to Cleveland, things did indeed get worse. He went from bad in the second half of 2011 to absolutely terrible in 2012, leading the league in both losses and wild pitches. He posted a  WHIP above 1.6, a FIP and ERA above 5 and an even further decrease in fastball velocity.

This year, almost nothing has changed statistically. His FIP is 4.5, only slightly better than his ERA of 4.8. His average fastball velocity is now at 92, the lowest of his career. His HR/9 rate is at 1.33, the highest of his career and all of this is while his BABIP is at the second lowest rate of his career, at .278.

So why would I be excited about Ubaldo Jimenez pitching for my team tonight? Because in thirty minutes, the Indians have him pitching against a team that is not the Detroit Tigers.

In his last nine games, only the Tigers have been able to score more than three runs on Ubaldo’s watch and for me, a manager who cares more about quality starts that any other pitching statistic, this is awesome. Who doesn’t get shelled by the Tigers once in a while? Sure, I chose the sample size of nine because I didn’t want to mention the lowly Astros scoring 4 runs in five innings (blew it) but this is something that statistics will not tell you. Ubaldo is getting beat by the best, but no one else. Tonight, he’s facing the Royals. A team that could only muster 3 hits and no runs over 7 innings the last time they met. And while I’m sure that the combination of this article and Ubaldo’s wildness will mean that he totally sucks tonight, it wasn’t just the drunk side of me that believes in him. Ubaldo has graduated from a horrible pitcher to someone that you might actually want to spot start.

Then again, maybe you don’t drink.