Ubaldo Jimenez got off to just about the best start you could ever ask for last season, giving up a grand total of five runs over his first seven starts. However, in yesterday’s 7-6 loss to the Diamondbacks, it took Jimenez just six innings to give up five runs.
Bad starts happen, of course, but the most troubling part about Jimenez’s performance was the general lack of velocity and movement on his pitches. According to Brooks Baseball, the 26-year-old right-hander topped out at 95.1 mph and averaged 93.36 mph yesterday, more than a couple ticks down from his 96.1 mph average from last season. After averaging 8.69 K/9 last season, Jimenez struck out just one batter yesterday. The fewest he struck out last year in a start was two. And while it’s not a major part of his arsenal, Jimenez threw just four curveballs in the entire game.
I’m not a scout or anything — just a fan here — but even Jimenez admitted to Thomas Harding of MLB.com that he “didn’t have anything working.”
So, what’s going on here? It’s probably a bit too soon to panic, but Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero had some interesting comments following the extra-inning victory.
“I noticed when he threw me a couple of fastballs, it was kind of weird,” said Montero, who doubled in the second inning and has homered on three of his five career hits against Jimenez. “I don’t know, honestly. I don’t think he was throwing that hard. I wonder if he’s all right.”
It turns out he wasn’t completely himself. According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca confirmed that Jimenez cut his finger during the team’s open workout Thursday. Both Jimenez and Apodaca downplayed the injury following the game and he’s still expected to make his next start. Hopefully this is just a situation where he just couldn’t get his usual grip on the baseball. The Rockies need Jimenez to be himself in order to have a legitimate shot to win the NL West.
Joe Longo, the agent of Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, said his client’s relationship with the Marlins is “irretrievably broken,” ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. He believes in the best interest of both Yelich and the Marlins to work out a trade before the start of spring training.
They have a plan. I respect that plan, but that plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career. He’s in the middle of the best years of his career, and having him be part of a 100-loss season is not really where [we] want to see him going.
The relationship between player and team is irretrievably broken. It’s soured. He’s part of the old ownership regime. The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and he needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win. The big issue is him winning and winning now.
He loves the city of Miami. He loves the fans. He’s had nothing but a good experience in South Florida, and he feels sorry where they ended up. But I think having him report [to spring training] and attempting to include him moving forward is going to be uncomfortable for both sides. I don’t see how it’s going to work.
This certainly comes as no surprise considering the offseason the Marlins have had after installing new ownership, going from Jeffrey Loria to Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. The club traded All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 59 home runs last season, as well as Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna. As Crasnick notes, Yelich isn’t the only player to express disappointment with the Marlins’ current direction — J.T. Realmuto and Starlin Castro have as well.
Yelich, 26, signed a seven-year, $49.57 million contract extension with the Marlins in March of 2015. Given his career performance, that’s a bargain of a contract, which is why more than a handful of teams have inquired with the Marlins about him this offseason. Yelich finished the past season with a .282/.369/.439 triple-slash line along with 18 home runs, 81 RBI, 100 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances.