Thursday, April 4, 2013
Reynolds, Jimenez show their capabilities
By Mark Simon
The Cleveland Indians have had a nice first two games to start the season, winning twice over a Toronto Blue Jays team that had been heralded throughout baseball for its offseason moves.
On Wednesday, the keys to their victory were two players who've had flashes of greatness in the past, but whose recent history had been lacking in such.
Maybe this will be the start of something better for them. Let’s take a look at Wednesday’s stars.
Reynolds goes long distance
Though he’d missed on 10 of his first 19 swings this season and done little else with the ones on which he made contact, new Indians slugger Mark Reynolds didn’t get cheated on swing number 20.
That one resulted in a 457-foot homer, into the far reaches of the Rogers Centre, which gave the Indians their second straight win over the Blue Jays.
It was the longest home run for Reynolds since August 7, 2011, when he hit a 463-foot home run off Ricky Romero.
The Indians learned Wednesday that Reynolds is still capable of the prodigious blast. His 10 home runs of 450 feet or longer since the start of the 2009 season are tied for fourth-most in baseball, three behind leader Justin Upton, who hit a 460-foot homer in his Braves debut.
He wasn’t the only all-or-nothing player to come up big for the Indians on Wednesday.
Jimenez gets Jays to chase
Though he earned a no-decision, Ubaldo Jimenez allowed one run, three hits and two walks in six innings against a powerful Blue Jays lineup.
Jimenez only had two starts in all of 2012 in which he pitched at least six innings and allowed five or fewer baserunners. He also struggled mightily against the AL East, going 2-5 with 34 earned runs allowed in 42⅓ innings.
What worked for Jimenez on Wednesday was the ability to get Blue Jays hitters to chase pitches out of the strike zone. Their 20 swings on 59 out-of-zone pitches resulted in five outs and no hits.
Last season, Jimenez got chases at a considerably lower rate. In fact, his 21.6 percent chase rate was the worst in the majors last season. That rate would have produced seven fewer swings then Jimenez got.
Jimenez only had one start all last season with a chase rate as good as the one he had Wednesday night, a six-inning, no-run effort against the Tigers.
Jimenez’s chase rate often coincides with his success on the mound. Since the start of 2011, he’s had 13 starts in which he’s gotten hitters to chase at least 30 percent of his pitches. In those starts, his ERA is a very solid 2.99