Strasburg’s the buzz, but what about Jiménez?

While much of the baseball world (particularly the guys at the four-letter “Bristol Improv”) has been focusing on the hot start of Nationals’ rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the Rockies’ Ubaldo Jiménez has quietly gotten off to one of the most unbelievable starts for a pitcher in MLB history.

Tucked away on the Rocky Mountains, miles away from all the major market media and its biases, Jiménez goes into tonight’s start against the hot Boston Red Sox with a 13-1 record, 1.15 ERA.  Yes, you read that correctly and we should also mention he pitched the first no-hitter in Rockies history earlier this season against the Atlanta Braves. 

Here is some further proof of his dominance:

Jiménez is only the fourth pitcher ever to win 13 of his first 14 starts.  The last pitcher to do so was Roger Clemens in 1986, but we may have to asterisk that one.

  • He has thrown 3 complete games and 2 shutouts – including that no-hitter against the Braves on April 17,
  • Opponents are hitting just .189 against him and lefties only .172.
  • He has allowed only 3 home runs this season.  Keep in mind that he pitches in hitter-friendly Coors Field.
  • He has a WHIP of 1.00, which is among one of the best in MLB.
  • According to Inside Edge, a baseball scouting company, opponents have only a .272 on-base percentage against him (well below the MLB average of .333) and has allowed only 3% of the batters he’s faced to score (MLB average is 12%).

The groundwork for this season started in the second half of 2009, when he went 9-3 with a 3.08 ERA as the Rockies rallied to win the NL Wild Card. 

What’s been the difference this year?

His fastball, which he throws in this high 90 MPH range with movement, has been his key pitch.  Add to that a curveball an excellent changeup, and its no wonder why he draws comparisons to Pedro Martinez from the likes of Boston’s Mike Cameron.

While the baseball media focuses on hurlers such as Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee (and his potential new team) and whether Strasburg is deserving of a spot on the NL All-Star roster, keep an eye on Jiménez. 

When you likely see him on the mound in Anaheim next month, you can impress your friends with all you know about him and his Bob Gibson-esque season.  And make sure you tell them that you read about him here first.

Re-printed with permission of the author.

Chris Lardieri covers the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com and has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. He previously wrote for 1766, the Rutgers Alumni Magazine, and popular blog, ‘The Outer Loop’.  Be sure to follow Chris on Twitter for more MLB and sports observations.

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