Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Ubaldo Jimenez Can Pitch The Indians Into The Playoffs

Wilton Lopez has pitched 75 times for the Colorado Rockies this season. 75.1 innings, a 4.06 ERA, and the subject of endless criticism and complaints in 2013. His groundball percentage, supposedly his strength as a pitcher and the reason the Rockies acquired him in the first place, is down to 49.6%, the lowest in his career.

Lopez, fairly or not, is at least somewhat linked to that deal because the Rockies traded Alex White to get him. White, of course, was part of the infamous Ubaldo Jimenez trade.

The main players in that deal were Jimenez and Drew Pomeranz. For his part, Pomeranz has made eight total appearances: four starts and four relief appearances. The starts were bad:

4.1 IP, 4 ER, 5 Ks, 4 BB
4.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Ks, 5 BB
4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Ks, 5 BB
4.1 IP, 3 ER, 2 Ks, 4 BB

The relief appearances were stellar (five scoreless innings with six strikeouts and only one walk), but let’s be honest, the Rockies did not acquire Pomeranz to mop up out of the bullpen. Hopefully that shows signs of a pitcher finding the strike zone and coming into the first round form that the Rockies so desperately want to see.

Here’s the problem for Pomeranz and the Rockies: all of a sudden Jimenez is pitching like the ace the Indians hoped he would be. Check out his five September starts:

6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Ks, 2 BB
7 IP, 0 ER, 10 Ks, 0 BB
8.1 IP, 1 ER, 8 Ks, 1 BB
7.0 IP, 1 ER, 9 Ks, 0 BB
6.1 IP, 2 ER, 7 Ks, 3 BB

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

That’s dominant. Now Jimenez has a chance to pitch his Cleveland Indians into the 2013 playoffs Sunday afternoon and he’s in line for a big payday.

The crazy thing is, we aren’t that far removed from Jimenez being dubbed a massive disappointment and, in some circles (Rockies fans) a punk. He was the subject of an article called Ubaldo Jimenez searches for his lost mechanics. He was a mess, and he went 9-17 with a 5.40 ERA in 2012.

So even if nobody saw this coming, and even if it doesn’t change the fact that the Rockies probably made the right decision trading the disgruntled pitcher, it’s still not fun to know that Jimenez has enjoyed such a significant turnaround and might be in the center of a celebration on Sunday. He won’t just be in the middle of it; he’s one of the key players in Cleveland’s ridiculously good September and he will be in the middle of things in the playoffs (if they make it).

Now, if Pomeranz experiences a Chatwood-esque turnaround this trade almost immediately tilts back into Colorado’s favor. And we should not forget that Joe Gardner, the forgotten man in the deal, is emerging as an effective relief pitcher. But for now, as the perception of the trade teeters back and forth, all eyes are on Ubaldo and the Cleveland Indians.

How quickly things change…

Tags: Colorado Rockies Ubaldo Jimenez

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