Ubaldo Jimenez has been an enigma for the Baltimore Orioles.
This season, Jimenez owns a 1-2 record in 8 starts and holds a 7.17 ERA. Outside of two outings, Jimenez has pitched pretty poorly this season. This is nothing new for Baltimore. With the Orioles, Jimenez has a 27-33 record in 95 appearances (87 starts). His ERA is 4.93 over this 4-year span.
Sometimes you get good Ubaldo. One example of Jimenez excelling was his outing against the Cincinnati Reds on April 19, where he went 7 2/3 scoreless innings. In that game, he pounded the zone and kept the ball low:
He has always had the potential to be a very good starter in the Majors when his command of the strike zone is great. Another example of this was in 2010 (with the Colorado Rockies) when he went 19-8 and had a 2.88 ERA. He also finished third
Then there is bad Ubaldo. In last night’s outing against the Minnesota Twins, who are currently the AL Central division leaders, he gave up six runs on nine hits, with two walks and three strikeouts. The worst part about this outing was that he couldn’t get past the fifth inning. This was his sixth start where he didn’t go at least five innings in the past eight outings.
As one can tell from his spots, he made mistakes pitching inside and down low. The Twins exploited these problems:
That’s not good to say the least and to be frank, this is what many Orioles fans have come accustomed to seeing from Jimenez. To make matters worse, his short outings cause the bullpen to be used heavily. This unsustainable.
In last night’s game, Tyler Wilson was brought in for relief of Jimenez. Wilson was also rocked, giving up five runs. Then Stefan Crichton came in for relief of Wilson, giving up a two-run blast to Twins slugger Miguel Sano. He also balked, leading in another run. Richard Bleier would also come into the game and give up a run.
The Orioles need to make a move with Jimenez.
What Should they Do With Jimenez?
Orioles manager Buck Showalter was asked about returning Jimenez to the bullpen as he did in the 2017 season. He would respond: “There’s always that possibility.”
As a reliever, Jimenez isn’t a very viable option. In his career, he holds a 6.41 ERA in 19.2 innings pitched as a reliever.
The better option is to release Jimenez outright. Currently, he is in the fourth and final season of his contract ($50 million). He will earn $13.5 million this season, regardless of what happens. In addition, if Baltimore were to release him, they would have to pay him $8 million to finish the season off of the club.
Baltimore has a few players that are either in bullpen or currently in the Minors who could become starters if Jimenez is released. The most intriguing option has to be Alec Asher. He has shown poise and command of the strike zone and he has done it both as a starter and reliever. Asher holds a 2.33 ERA in 10 appearances, two of them being starts.
While with the Orioles, Asher has used his sinker more, now using it 31.9% of the time.
It is safe to say that the ball can be kept low, which Asher has done while using the sinker, more success will be had.