With Opening Day less than three weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2016 Orioles every day as they try to return to the playoffs for the third time in five years this season.
March 1 – Adam Jones
March 2 – Chris Tillman
March 3 – Jonathan Schoop
March 4 – Brad Brach
March 5 – Nolan Reimold
March 6 – Yovani Gallardo
March 7 – Matt Wieters
March 8 – T.J. McFarland
March 9 – Dariel Alvarez
March 10 – Brian Matusz
March 11 – J.J. Hardy
March 12 – Mychal Givens
March 13 – Ryan Flaherty
SP Ubaldo Jimenez
Contract status: Under contract through the 2017 season
2015 stats: 12-10, 4.11 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 8.2 K/IP, 3.3 BB/IP, 20 HR, 184 innings
Why to be impressed: The right-hander posted an impressive 2.81 ERA in the first half last year, and it was largely because of his highest ground-ball rate (49.1 percent) since 2009. Jimenez also dramatically improved his command by allowing 2.2 fewer walks per nine innings than he did in 2014 and posting the lowest overall walk rate (8.6 percent) of his career.
Why to be concerned: After commanding his two-seam fastball exceptionally well before the All-Star break, the veteran starter lost his feel for the pitch and produced a 5.63 ERA in the second half. Jimenez issued 36 walks, gave up 12 home runs, and struck out just 7.4 batters per nine innings in his final 84 2/3 innings of 2015, ruining what had been an exceptional first half.
2016 outlook: The key to success for Jimenez will be if he can recapture the command of his two-seamer that he had in the first half of 2015 when he threw it more frequently than he had since his 2010 All-Star season in Colorado. Jimenez is at his best when he’s keeping the ball down in the zone, but he lacks the consistency to expect numbers dramatically better from what he did a year ago.
2016 not-so-scientific projections: 12-12, 3.98 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 8.1 K/IP, 3.4 BB/IP, 18 HR, 182 innings