The Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation could find hope and glory in one man in 2014, free agent starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. He has what the Jays need in a top-rate hurler.
Jimenez, 30, seems like, as my tailor says “a perfect fit” for pitching in the Jays’ home park, the Rogers Centre. The Rogers Centre is a hitter’s field. In 2013, it led the MLB in an interesting stat… “the park factor.” The Park Factor compares the rate of stats at home vs. the rate of stats on the road. A rate higher than 1.000 favors the hitter. Below 1.000 favors the pitcher. The Rogers Centre led MLB in doubles (1.476) and third in home runs (1.289). Trust me, those two numbers are high and the Rogers Centre is a real hitters park. If one pitches at Rogers, one needs a pitcher who does not get dinged for copious home runs.
Jimenez is such a pitcher. He only gave up 16 home runs in 2013. In comparison, R. A. Dickey gave up 36 and Mark Buehrle surrendered 24.
Jimenez also throws heat, striking out 8 to 9 a game. It is a nice thing to have a pitcher who gives you three innings worth of outs where the ball does not go beyond home plate.
Another positive thing about Jimenez is his high ground ball out-rate (43.9%). Keeping the ball on the ground and safely away from the fences is a good thing, especially now that the Jays double play threat has increased with second baseman Ryan Goins. With Jimenez on the mound, a lot of first base runners would be jogging to their dugout and no further.
Jimenez’s career ERA is a respectable 3.92. With a decent defence in the field, which the Jays now have, that stat would most likely go down. Jimenez, walks four batters and gives up about eight hits a game. That is a negative point. Jimenez needs good fielders behind him.
Jimenez is also capable of pitching over 200 innings and starting well-over 30 games. Considering the injuries last year, durability and putting less stress on the Jays’ bullpen would be a welcome thing.
Like all good things in life, Jimenez will not come cheap. It will cost Toronto a draft pick since Jimenez refused his former club’s option on his contract. Oh, he will also cost a lot of filthy lucre. As the kids say, yolo. As they say in the schmeta business, what price matches a good fit? Indeed, what is hope and glory worth?
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