Ubaldo Jimenez left last night’s start after a season-low 92 pitches because of hamstring cramping, but not before holding the Astros’ lowly lineup to one hit over seven shutout innings. Jimenez is now 8-1 with a 0.99 ERA through nine starts, with his only loss coming on May 9 when he allowed just two hits over seven innings of one-run ball only to see Clayton Kershaw shut out the Rockies.
Plenty of players have amazing numbers six weeks into every season, but I was curious about how Jimenez’s blazing start stacks up against recent Cy Young winners. Here’s what the past 10 award winners did through their first nine starts:
YEAR CYA WINNER W L ERA
2009 Tim Lincecum 3 1 3.45
2009 Zack Greinke 7 1 0.82
2008 Tim Lincecum 5 1 1.92
2008 Cliff Lee 7 1 1.50
2007 Jake Peavy 5 1 1.64
2007 CC Sabathia 6 1 3.65
2006 Brandon Webb 6 0 2.78
2006 Johan Santana 4 4 3.23
2005 Chris Carpenter 6 2 4.07
2005 Bartolo Colon 5 3 2.67
Jimenez has more victories through nine starts than any of the past 10 winners and only Zack Greinke last season had a lower ERA. Greinke ended up with just 16 wins last season because the Royals’ lineup and bullpen repeatedly let him down in the second half, but he was 7-1 with a 0.82 ERA through nine starts and 8-1 with a 0.84 ERA through 10 starts. Jimenez would need to throw 11.2 shutout innings in his next start to get his ERA down to 0.84.
In general though, Jimenez in definitely off to a Cy Young-winning start, as the past 10 award winners have averaged 5.4 wins, 1.5 losses, and a 2.57 ERA through nine outings. Of course, when Livan Hernandez is right on Jimenez’s heels with a 1.62 ERA it’s probably way too early to start thinking about such things.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.