On our last episode of the Bird’s Eye View podcast, we talked briefly about the struggles of Ubaldo Jimenez. Throughout April, we were promised that things would change once we hit May. And this was true to a certain part for his first three starts of May going 19.2 IP with 1 ER pitching to .46 ERA, .191 BA, .477 OPS, 63% Strikes:
Pitch usage during this period was as follows according to Pitch F/X:
However in comparison to the rest of his starts the following stats can be seen:
There are several stats that stand out in these poor starts that should come as surprise to no one who has watched Ubaldo Jimenez. We can see a greatly elevated BB/9 in these games with a total of 5.91 BB/9 in these games compared to 2.37 BB/9 in his quality games.
In addition, the games he has seen success has been with a GB% greater than 50.00%. There are two outliers in the most recently starts. However, the KCR game isn’t as bad as we make it to be if we look at the BABIP (.467), K/9, and BB/9. This game for Jimenez was undone by an Alex Gordon three-run homer.
Analysis of the pitch selection shows that when Jimenez relied more heavily on his four-seam fastball that he saw greater success. When you combine FT% and FS% which are his sinker, we see success when he kept this pitch less than 25% of his pitch percentage. This is interesting based on the belief that was held when Jimenez was first signed in his need to rely more heavily on breaking balls due to his drop in velocity.
I wanted to examine a secondary source. I turned to the use of Brooksbaseball to analyze Jimenez further:
May 5th to May 13th:
May 18th and May 24th:
We can obviously see the differences in May with Fourseam and Slider deviation. However, if you look at May we are seeing an increased use in Fourseam pitches and reduced slider usage mirroring the start of May. So why was the beginning of May so successful in terms of pitch selection based on this secondary source? It comes back to command and control as we can see a significant reduction in Whiff % and increase in Out-Zone pitches compared to 2013 and success seen this year:
In or Out of Zone:
Here are the pitch outcomes for various portions so far since 2013:
We can see issues in April and Late May in Ball% and Whiff% compared to 2013 and Early May. However, we also can’t overlook that Jimenez even in Early May is seeing reduced success with the Fourseam fastball in terms of Whiff %.
Based off these results in terms of pitch outcomes, zone pitching, and increased BB/9 leading toward worst starts, I think we can surmise that Jimenez sole issue is with pitch location and control moving forward. It will be interesting to see if the Orioles can fix his mechanics which were an issue in Cleveland. Or perhaps we will see these brief flashes of brilliance combined with absolutely ugly stretches of walks being delivered.