Monday, May 31, 2010

Jimenez continues writing history with complete-game shutout

Who would have ever thought that the Colorado Rockies would have a pitcher who was writing his name into the history books?

The answer to that is most people. However, most people would think that the Rockies pitcher re-writing the history books would be for something bad, like highest ERA after 10 starts, or most home runs given up in a season. That is not what Ubaldo Jimenez is doing.

After shutting out the San Francisco Giants and two-time defending Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum on Monday at a sold out AT&T Park 4-0, Jimenez continues to make his fabulous start turn into more than just a great start. The question now is how long he can continue his dominance.

Through 11 starts, Jimenez has notched 10 wins. He lowered his 0.88 ERA to an incredible 0.78 ERA with his complete game. There are two other pitchers who have had that good of a start in the last 100 years. One is Zach Grienke, who won the AL Cy Young award in 2009, and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal.

Jimenez's critics are suggesting that he is due for a collapse. That is an easy prediction to make when Jimenez is putting up such incredible numbers. Will he finish the season with an ERA under 1.00? Odds are against him. The fact is, Jimenez will most likely not be able to keep up this pace. However, that does not mean that he cannot stay as dominant as he has been.

The pessimists are suggesting that his BABIP (batting average for balls in play) will not be able to remain under under .200 when the league average is around .300.

Those critics have not seen Jimenez pitch. The Baseball Tonight crew highlighted an at bat Jimenez had against Aaron Rowand on Monday. Jimenez threw two 98 MPH fastballs that moved 10 inches from the inside of the plate to the outside. The fact is, Jimenez's low BABIP is not due to luck, as some would suggest, it is more due to hitters not being able to get good wood on the ball.

If Rowand were able to hit the ball, it would have been a weakly hit ground ball somewhere in the infield. It would have been extremely difficult for Rowand to hit the ball hard enough for it to make it out of the infield.

Two days after Roy Halladay logged the 20th perfect game in major league history, Jimenez and Lincecum had an opportunity to show that they were every bit as good as Halladay. In their first battle of the season, Jimenez looked like the better pitcher. Lincecum continued his struggles, in just 5-2/3 innings the Cy Young winner had walked five hitters and struck out just three. He gave up six hits and four runs, three of which were earned.

Many good things have been said about Jimenez. He deserves every single word of it. Being a 10-game winner in the big leagues will make a starting pitcher a millionaire. Jimenez has won his 10th game before the calendar turns to June. The 26-year old Dominican still has four months to continue his dominance.

If Jimenez can stay healthy, his season may be remembered for years to come as one of the best seasons by a major league pitcher.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

This article is also featured on InDenverTimes.com

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