Will Ubaldo Jimenez return to All-Star form?

Jimenez derailed in Cleveland, but managed to get back on track in 2013. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

 

It seems like just yesterday Ubaldo Jimenez was the best pitcher in the National League, starting out the year with a 14-1 record at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Up until his stellar 2010 campaign, Jimenez was your average starting pitcher – 3.5-4 earned run average, even win-loss record, nothing too special. In the first half of the 2010 season, the Dominican pitcher was all but average.

Through his first 15 starts, Jimenez had hitters breaking bats and throwing helmets on his way to a 14-1 record, putting up a video game-like 1.83 ERA. Oh yeah, let’s not forget about that no-hitter he tossed against Atlanta.

Jimenez saw a massive regression in the second half of the year. Obviously, you can’t expect him to continue pitching at such a ridiculous level, but the drop in his performance truly was massive. Prior to the All-Star Break, Jimenez was 15-1 with a 2.2 ERA. Following the midsummer classic, he went 4-7 with an ERA of 3.80.

When Jimenez was traded to Cleveland in exchange for four prospects, he struggled even more. An All-Star in 2010, Jimenez finished 2011 with a 5.10 ERA. Maybe he just had a bad year, right? I mean, everyone has that year where they just can’t seem to get going. This is exactly what was running through my mind – that is, until he finished the next year with an even uglier ERA of 5.40.

At this point, many people thought Jimenez’s career was pretty much over. A mediocre pitcher had one good year, then turned out to be nothing but a fluke.

Not so fast.

Last year, I saw several glimpses of the 2010 Ubaldo Jimenez. The tall, powerful pitcher once again was throwing heat with his four-seamer and striking batters out with his two-seamer. The former Rockies star looked like himself again as he closed out the year with a 3.30 ERA, and if Justin Masterson didn’t have the breakout season that he did, Jimenez wouldn’t have been in such a shadow.

Jimenez joins a group of other starters that remain unsigned. Ervin Santana, Bronson Arroyo, Tommy Hanson and A.J. Burnett could all make an impact for a team making a run at the World Series, but it doesn’t appear that clubs are too interested in them.

Yes, Jimenez has been quite shaky, but if he does in fact regain All-Star form, whoever decides to pick him up will be glad they did. It may be a bit risky, but it would be a bold move to sign the 30 year old to a short contract.

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