With Opening Day less than two weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.
SP Ubaldo Jimenez
Opening Day age: 33
Contract status: Under contract through the 2017 season
2016 stats: 8-12, 5.44 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, 16 HR, 142 1/3 innings
Why to be impressed: Rebounding from a miserable first half that saw him temporarily lose his spot in the rotation, Jimenez rebounded dramatically down the stretch with a 2.45 ERA over his last seven starts covering 47 2/3 innings to help Baltimore secure a wild card. The right-hander was also able to harness his two-seam fastball, finishing with a 49.0 percent ground-ball rate to lead all Baltimore starters.
Why to be concerned: A 7.06 ERA through late July led to Jimenez being sent to the bullpen for the second time in three seasons, which sums up how disappointing the return has been on a four-year, $50 million deal. The right-hander’s average fastball velocity was the lowest of his career and his strikeout rate was his worst since 2012, concerning signs for a pitcher who already struggles with command.
2017 outlook: Expecting a consistent season from Jimenez is begging for disappointment, but you hope he can put together a nice stretch or two of quality starts while minimizing the lows as he did in 2015. If he can command his two-seamer, Jimenez has a chance to be a league-average starter, but diminishing velocity and inconsistent command make for a lower ceiling than he enjoyed earlier in his career.
2017 not-so-scientific projections: 11-11, 4.79 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 18 HR, 162 innings