Ubaldo Jimenez has allowed 21 runs in 21 innings for Indians

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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.