As Aaron noted this morning, Ubaldo Jimenez has been nothing short of amazing to begin the season, going 10-1 with a 0.78 ERA so far. He has now put in 11 straight starts in which he has allowed two earned runs or fewer. Astounding, yes. But unprecedented?
Alas, no. At least not in terms of the low earned-runs streak. As Raphy at the excellent Baseball-Reference Blog noted after yesterday’s game, one guy actually started his season with 12 straight games in which he allowed two runs or fewer. The man: Edinson Volquez in 2008. Wasn’t expecting him.
The others on that list are an interesting lot. Juan Marichal’s 1966 actually makes Jimenez’s 2010 look rather pedestrian, as Marichal had an ERA of 0.59 through ten starts and a 60/8 K/BB ratio. No one was touching the Dominican Dandy in the early going that year.
But I guess the most striking thing on the list is what’s not there: truly historic seasons. Yes, there’s a Cy Young award in there — Greinke’s 2009 year — but no seasons that people remember forever like Bob Gibson’s 1968 or any of Sandy Koufax’s big years. As Raphy notes, just about all of those guys fell back to Earth a bit after their fast starts, some of them in a pretty major way (see, Moore, Barry; 1969). Really, Marichal’s was the only big time season there, and even then he was bested by Koufax in the long haul that year.
This isn’t to rain on Jimenez’s parade. What he’s doing is fantastic and, at the moment, he’s got to be considered the favorite for the Cy Young award (sorry, Roy). But it is premature to call his season historic for the simple reason that such streaks aren’t generally sustainable and there’s a lot of baseball yet to be played.
The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.
Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”
Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”
Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.
Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.
According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.
While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.