Aaron Gleeman

Chad Billingsley

Chad Billingsley is ready to rejoin the Phillies’ rotation

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Right-hander Chad Billingsley will come off the disabled list and rejoin the Phillies’ rotation Thursday versus the Brewers, reports Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.

Billingsley has missed six weeks with a shoulder injury and didn’t fare particularly well on his minor-league rehab assignment, but he’s feeling healthy and the Phillies basically need warm bodies for the rotation.

Billingsley made three starts for the Phillies before being shut down, allowing 13 runs in 16 innings after missing most of 2013 and all of 2014 with injuries.

Mets move Wilmer Flores off shortstop

Wilmer Flores AP
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There were plenty of skeptics when it came to Wilmer Flores’ ability to be an everyday shortstop defensively and apparently the Mets now agree, shifting him to second base with plans to keep him there once Daniel Murphy returns from the disabled list this week.

Flores’ defensive numbers actually weren’t terrible. He was right around average according to Ultimate Zone Rating and five runs below average according to Defensive Runs Saved. But he was definitely stretched at the position and the Mets would rather go forward with Ruben Tejada at shortstop.

Flores also hasn’t been particularly good offensively, hitting .238 with a .665 OPS in 71 games, and the bar for production is higher at second base than at shortstop. Of course, he’s also just 23 years old and hit 10 homers in three months after crushing Triple-A pitching last season. Providing that kind of pop at the plate while being a plus defensively would make a solid all-around second baseman.

What a world: Orioles are in first place and Ubaldo Jimenez has been their ace

Ubaldo Jimenez
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Ubaldo Jimenez was so bad last season that the Orioles basically did everything they could to avoid relying on him in the rotation just months after signing him to a four-year, $50 million contract as a free agent.

However, this offseason he talked extensively about hoping to get healthy after lots of nagging injuries and making an effort to revamp his mechanics with the coaching staff. Whatever he did, it’s been working.

Jimenez shut out the Indians for eight innings Sunday, improving to 7-3 and lowering his ERA to 3.09 with an 89/27 K/BB ratio in 87 innings that represents by far the best mark of his career. He’s been the Orioles’ best starting pitcher this season, which is a statement that would have sounded insane last year.

Sunday’s gem included seven strikeouts and zero walks. It was the third time this season he’s walked zero batters in a start and he’s walked three or fewer batters in 14 of his 15 outings. By comparison, last year Jimenez failed to have a single zero-walk start and walked three or fewer batters in just 13 of 22 outings.

Jimenez’s raw stuff hasn’t changed. His average fastball of 90.5 miles per hour is the exact same as last season and his off-speed stuff has similar velocities to 2014 as well. But he’s trusted that raw stuff far more, cutting his walk rate in half from 5.5 to 2.8 per nine innings while maintaining a strikeout rate near his norm of around one per inning. And in doing so he’s gone from a signing the Orioles immediately regretted to sitting atop the rotation for a first-place team.