Can Ubaldo Jimenez be the first 30-game winner since 1968?

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The answer is no, of course, but “Ubaldo Jimenez probably won’t win 30 games, but let’s talk about him anyway” really isn’t much of a headline as far as headlines go.
Jimenez notched his 14th victory Monday in his team’s 76th game, which seemed to me like a pretty amazing feat but actually isn’t all that rare. According to the indispensable and highly addicting Play Index on Baseball-Reference.com, Jimenez became the 45th player in baseball history with at least 14 wins in his team’s first 76 games.
The most recent pitchers to do so were Pedro Martinez in 1999, John Smoltz in 1996, Bret Saberhagen in 1987, Roger Clemens in 1986, Joaquin Andujar in 1985, and Steve Carlton in 1980. None of those guys won 30 games, because the last pitcher to win 30 games was Denny McClain in 1968.
However, if Jimenez can win again in his next start Saturday night that would give him 15 wins in 81 team games, which would further thin the field historically and put him on pace for exactly 30 wins. He’ll be facing Barry Zito and the Giants, and Jimenez hasn’t pitched well in back-to-back outings, but if he can pick up the victory he’ll become just the 34th pitcher with at least 15 wins through 81 team games.
Pedro in 1999 and Andujar in 1985 are the only pitchers to do so since 1980, and they finished with 23 and 21 wins, respectively. All of which shows the incredible difficultly of winning 30 games while pitching in a five-man rotation. As amazing as Jimenez has been, he’d have to duplicate his first-half performance and get the same kind of lineup and bullpen support to rarely take a loss or even a no-decision.
Twenty-five wins is much more feasible, and Bob Welch in 1990 is the last pitcher to do that.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.