When people discuss the three poor starts from newly signed Ubaldo Jimenez, most of his defenders like to point out his worse month traditionally has been April. Others like to take the patient approach, judging correctly that you can’t fully evaluate a pitcher on three starts.
While I agree with the folks that point out that Ubaldo is usually bad in April and that its way to early to give up on him, I’d be lying if from a purely scouting stance that his stuff doesn’t concern me a bit.
First, his velocity is down for the 4th straight year with his average velocity dipping 1.5 MPH from 92.1 to 90.6 this season so far. The problem with the drop in velocity is that he doesn’t have the command to get away with a 88-91 MPH sinking fastball so when he misses, it’s getting hammered.
The slider is also inconsistent and again, he doesn’t have the command of the pitch to get away with the below average offerings he tossing up there way too often. Finally, he really hasn’t used his split-change all that much and when he has, he either hasn’t commanded the pitch well enough to get swings and misses or he’s hung it and it’s been hit hard.
I guess I’d feel better if it was just the occasional miss of a quality pitch that found too much of the plate because that’s something that can be cleaned up. But the stuff I’ve seen from him suggests he’ll have to have outstanding command and stay on the black for success. I can’t imagine this is the kind of stuff the Orioles paid 50 million for so hopefully Jimenez will refind what made him successful over the second half of last season when he was one of the best starters in baseball.
Maybe the quality of his stuff will improve? At least the Orioles better hope so.