I spent a lot of my high school years and some of my early professional life working in the theater. One of the many adages in the theatrical world is: “Bad dress rehearsal–good show.” Granted, sometimes this didn’t hold true. Sometimes a bad dress rehearsal just meant you had a crappy production and you’d have to deal with crappy reviews and small audiences. But sometimes it was true. The dress rehearsal would stink and somehow, on opening night, everything would come together–the actors would find their timing, the technical changes would transition flawlessly, and all would be well. Dress rehearsals are the time to correct mistakes in timing and execution so that you don’t do them during The Show.
Spring Training is the dress rehearsal for the regular season, so I’m not too concerned that the two guys who are supposed to be the Tribe’s aces–Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez–got lit up in their first Spring Training starts. On Monday, Masterson said: “”This is the exact same spot I’m in every spring training, so it’s perfect.” There is some truth to his statement. Masterson ended 2011 Spring Training with a 5.40 ERA and 1.34 WHIP over 21.2 innings pitched. (He also had 23 strikeouts and 6 walks.) He had a lousy Spring Training and a great regular season.
In 2010, Masterson had a 5.14 ERA with a 1.62 WHIP over 21 innings pitched, but in this case, the lousy dress rehearsal did not add up to a stellar season. He ended the 2010 regular season with a 6-13 record, 4.7 ERA/ 1.5 WHIP over 180 innings pitched. However, that was also Masterson’s first full season with the Indians. He’s grown since then. I forget sometimes that he’s only 26 because it feels like he’s been around for a while. I’m more than willing to give Masterson the benefit of the doubt on this one. He pitched better in 2011 than his record shows because he frequently didn’t have run support. Dear Justin, Please have another crappy Spring Training and a great season.
Ubaldo Jimenez is still a question mark for me. Out of curiosity, I put his basic Spring Training stats next to his regular season stats (2011 numbers are combined totals for games played with the Rockies and the Indians). There doesn’t seem to be any strong correlation between how he does in Spring Training vs. the regular season except to say that in his magic year of 2010, he had a great Spring Training. You can infer what you wish from these numbers. I won’t worry too much yet. He has plenty of time to work out the kinks.