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Indians win chase for Ubaldo Jimenez

7/31/2011

Ubaldo Jimenez

JimenezUbaldo Jimenez was traded from the Colorado Rockies to the Cleveland Indians Saturday in exchange for three minor league prospects and a player to be named later.

The Indians trail the division-leading Tigers by 1.5 games and Jimenez could be the jolt their team -- and specifically their rotation -- needs down the stretch. The Indians' starters are in the bottom third of all MLB teams in winning percentage, ERA and innings pitched.

Indians Starting Pitching Entering Saturday

The trade is a change of pace for the Indians, who had been trading away notable players during the season since 2008. CC Sabathia (2008), Cliff Lee (2009), Victor Martinez (2009) and Jake Westbrook (2010) all left the Tribe in in-season deals.

After starting this season 0-5 with a 5.86 ERA, Jimenez has been much closer to his 2010 self in his last 12 starts. Since June 1, Jimenez is 6-4 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.

Another positive sign for the Indians is that Jimenez’s numbers have been very good away from Coors Field. His record is 3-4 away from Colorado, but his ERA is 3.38 -- as opposed to 5.55 at Coors. In addition, he is holding hitters to a .183 average and striking out 9.8 batters per nine innings away from Coors.

However, some baseball people are wondering why the Rockies are trading a 27-year-old frontline starter who's under contract 2 ½ more years at a team-friendly price in the first place. Do they know something, health wise, that other teams don't? From 2009-10, no starter averaged more velocity on his fastball than Jimenez. This season, after losing nearly three MPH off his fastball, his velocity ranks just 16th among qualified starters.

Ubaldo Jimenez's Fastball

In other news around baseball Saturday:

• Cliff Lee struck out 11 as the Phillies dropped the Pirates, 7-4. It is Lee’s seventh double-digit strikeout game this season, the most in the majors. Also, it is the most such games in a season by a Phillies pitcher since Curt Schilling recorded 15 in 1998.

• Atlanta’s Dan Uggla extended his hitting streak to 21 games. Elias tells us that Uggla's .173 mark at the start of his hitting streak is the lowest in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) for a player with a hitting streak of 20 or more games (minimum 200 at-bats at the start of the hitting streak).

• Robinson Cano joined some exclusive company Saturday, becoming the sixth Yankees hitter to go 5-for-5 or better with 5 or more RBI at home in the Live Ball Era (since 1920). Among those to accomplish the feat are Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio.