Friday, June 11, 2010

How To Beat Ubaldo Jimenez


By
Is Ubaldo Jimenez invincible? With a nearly perfect record at 11-1, the young Colorado Rockies certainly looks to be that way.

He has won 11 of 12 starts this season, and the only blemish on his record was a hard-luck loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jimenez only gave up one run through seven innings while his fellow Rockies couldn't even put up one run in support.

The Toronto Blue Jays dealt the seemingly unstoppable Zack Grienke his first loss of the 2009 season, so hopefully they will be able to do the same against the new pitching titan of the National League - Ubaldo Jimenez.

So how will the Blue Jays solve the soft-spoken one they call "The Chief"? After combing through his stats attempting to find some chink in his armour, I came up with ... nothing.

Begging on my knees pleading for mercy against the Blue Jays lineup, I reached out to Russ from the excellent Colorado Rockies blog Purple Row. I asked him what ... if anything, the Blue Jays could to do beat Ubaldo Jimenez:
"Any team would need to be filled with Gods in order to beat Ubaldo Jimenez, because U-Ball is a God himself. We've already built a religious following around Jimenez because of this one pitch he threw a couple of weeks ago

OK, OK, on to the serious stuff. If the Jays somehow run into the Ubaldo Jimenez who walks too many batters, they have a chance at winning it. Jimenez's only loss came against the Dodgers, who scored two runs to the Rockies none. 

With the way the Rockies' offense has seemingly disappeared at the most frustrating times, a run or two off Jimenez can put the Jays over the top."
Now we have one clue to what could be the Achilles Heel of mighty Ubaldo - the walk. If the Blue Jays can curb their swing-happy ways tonight and become extremely patient without watching too many pitches go by, they just might have a chance.

Another piece of useful information about Ubaldo Jimenez is he leaves a lot of men on base, 92.4 percent to be exact. So up to this point, Jimenez has only allowed 7.6 percent of base runners to score. That's cold man ... straight up cold.

Jimenez has also been very fortunate with a great defensive infield. He's been saved 10 times by double plays this season alone. Combine that with the slick fielding duo of Troy Tulowitzski and Ian Stewart on the left side of the infield, and Ubaldo becomes extremely stingy with his runs, let alone base hits.

Ubaldo is predominantly a ground ball pitcher, and with fly balls traveling an average of 9% further in Coors Field than any other ballpark in the majors, if the Blue Jays are going to take the bat off their shoulders, they should be swinging for the fences.

So it's almost a Catch 22 with Ubaldo Jimenez: the Blue Jays are damned if they do swing because it's likely to induce a ground ball out, and they're damned if they don't because Jimenez strands over 92 percent of base runners anyway.

All I can say is good luck to the Blue Jays hitters tonight because they have quite the uphill battle going up against the best pitcher in the Major Leagues right now.

Join me tonight over at The Score later tonight, as I'll be live blogging this one starting at 9pm.

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