Cleveland gave up such a valuable package of prospects to get Ubaldo Jimenez from Colorado in large part because he’s signed through 2014 and thus not simply a stretch-run pickup, but the Indians can’t be happy with how he’s looked in the early on.
Jimenez failed to make it out of the fourth inning yesterday against the Tigers, coughing up a career-high eight runs, and has now allowed 21 runs in 21 innings for the Indians.
Jimenez’s inconsistent velocity was a potential red flag leading up to the trade deadline and health-related worries reportedly scared off some teams. In both 2009 and 2010 he averaged 96.1 miles per hour with his fastball, but yesterday he averaged 93.1 miles per hour and topped out at 95.9 mph. That’s still plenty fast, but a three-mph drop from a 27-year-old is significant and has been Jimenez’s story all year.
Cleveland acquired Jimenez to make 110 starts, not four starts, but if he can’t provide big-time value down the stretch this season and in 2012 the trade is only going to look worse once prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White arrive in the majors for good.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.