Friday, April 23, 2010

Ubaldo Jimenez: Get Used To Hearing That Name

The Rockies defeated the Nationals 2-0 on Thursday behind another incredible performance from their budding star Ubaldo Jimenez.

Jimenez went 7-1/3 innings, giving up just five hits and keeping his scoreless streak in tact at 17-2/3 innings.

It is almost comical to look back into the not-so-distant past to recall fans who were upset at the Rockies front office for not making a strong push for Roy Halladay, who was on the market.

The Rockies did inquire, but quickly hung up the phone when the asking price was Jimenez and Ian Stewart. There was a group of fans who thought the Rockies were crazy. They thought that Halladay is a proven winner while Jimenez was just raw talent. There were even reporters who suggested as recently as this spring that the Rockies should have made that deal.

How does the crow taste?

After helping the Rockies take the next step in 2007 and get to their first ever World Series, Ubaldo Jimenez's abilities were never in doubt.

In both 2008 and 2009 Jimenez took steps forward to becoming one of the league's best pitchers. In 2010, the light switch has turned on.

At the end of the day on Thursday the scoreboard read 2-0 Rockies, a classic pitchers duel. What actually transpired reveals so much more about the man on the mound for Colorado. Five days after throwing 129 pitches in the club's first ever no-hitter, Jimenez returned to the mound unfazed by expectations.

Before the game he told reporters that he wasn't worried about giving up a hit, he just wanted to pick up a win for the team. The biggest concern for the Rockies is if Jimenez would experience a no-hitter hangover. The right hander proved there would be no such thing, firing three pitches at 97 MPH in the first inning and touching 100 in the second.

Jimenez began his career with an incredible arm. His talent is nothing short of God-given. However, he was completely unrefined. He struggled with walks throughout his minor league career, and brought those struggles with him to the big leagues. All the way through the middle half of '09, Jimenez was plagued by the big inning.

The big inning no longer plagues him.

At this rate, a big inning off of Jimenez would consist of two hits, let alone a run. That is how dominant he has been.

April numbers always have to have the caveat that they are too small of a sample size to draw conclusions from. However, Jimenez now has four starts under his belt, enough to get an accurate depiction of how well he is doing.

Take a look at these numbers and try and find a reason why Jimenez will not be on his way to Anaheim in mid-July for his first of many All-Star Games. 4-0, 28-1/3 innings pitched, 25 strikeouts, 12 walks, 0.95 ERA.

For years Rockies fans have been hoping for an ace. Those years are long gone. The Rockies have their ace. Jimenez is not only the ace of the Colorado Rockies, but he may just prove to be the ace of the National League. The national media may want to ignore him, but they will not be able to do it for very long. Jimenez is as good as any pitcher in the league, and when he takes the mound, the Rockies are going to be a tough team to beat.

The fact is, Jimenez has too much talent to be ignored. At 26 years old, he is still a couple of years away from his prime. That fact should be more scary to hitters then the no-hitter or the shutout.

Ubaldo Jimenez is for real, and he is a Colorado Rockie. Enjoy.


For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

This article is also featured on InDenverTimes.com

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