Ubaldo Jimenez has had some really bad starts as a member of the Tribe. However, tonight’s had to rank up there with one of his worst ever. Coming out of Spring Training I was hopeful that this was going to be Ubaldo’s year to turn it around. He seemed to have worked a lot on his mechanics and he was walking far fewer batters as a result. He was able to carry this momentum into his first start against Toronto before faltering last week in the Tribe’s home opener against the Yankees. I was curious to see how Ubaldo was going to bounce back following his latest performance, and let’s just say the he failed the test…miserably.
Everything that Ubaldo has been working on over the past few months was thrown away in this start. His stat line was horrendous: 1.2 IP, 7 ER, and 5 BB. The walks are still what concern me because this was something he supposedly improved upon in the offseason by fixing his mechanics. However, today proved that he is still a work in progress. It’s extremely difficult to be a work in progress and simultaneously help your team to win ballgames at the big league level.
It’s only his 3rd start, and it’s only game number 12 of the season, so I’m not ready to hit the panic button on Ubaldo this season just yet. That being said, I am getting really, really close. If the Tribe wishes to genuinely compete this season, they simply cannot throw Ubaldo out there every 5th day with the same inconsistency he has shown early on this season and throughout his career with the Tribe.
To make matters worse, the Tribe had to feature a different looking lineup today as well as it was announced that Michael Bourn is headed to the 15-day DL. The offense had some opportunities tonight, but simply was not able to breakthrough against Boston starter Felix Doubront. I have to say, I am slightly concerned about the trickle-down effect of the Bourn injury. Francona had Drew Stubbs batting leadoff tonight, which is not ideal due to Stubbs’s high number of strikeouts and low OBP. Additionally, Carlos Santana was moved up to the 3rd spot in the batting order and responded by going hitless in 4 AB with 2 K and 4 LOB. I thought that it was eventually inevitable that Francona was going to move Santana up in the order at some point this season based on his RBI and OBP potential. However, I would have preferred for him to continue batting 6th for a few more weeks with less pressure on him before Francona considered moving him up. I guess injuries always force a manager to readjust though.
If there was a silver lining in today’s game it was the bullpen for sure. We have one heck of a bullpen, and it showed tonight. Outside of Mike Napoli’s 3-run double allowed by Cody Allen after inheriting Ubaldo’s mess, the bullpen was simply phenomenal. The combination of Allen, Nick Hagadone, Rich Hill, and Bryan Shaw worked 7.1 innings and gave up 4 hits (all off Allen), and struck out an unbelievable 15 batters. Note that these are just our middle relievers here folks, as our big 3 of Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, and Chris Perez didn’t even pitch in this dominant bullpen outing. This goes to show just how good and deep our bullpen is. This is the one positive to take away from tonight’s game at the very least.