During his first year-and-a-half in Cleveland, Ubaldo Jimenez looked like a shell of his former self. His strikeouts were down, his walks were up, and he was generally just not an effective pitcher.
Last year, he was able to turn things around in a major way, putting up a 13-9 record and 3.30 ERA for the Tribe. The righty's previous upper-90s velocity was nowhere to be found, but he still managed to miss plenty of bats with a career-high 9.6 K/9 rate. He accomplished this in part by leaning more heavily on his secondary offerings.
In the second half Jimenez was a fantasy player's dream come true. After the All-Star break, he turned in dominant outing after dominant outing, piling up 100 strikeouts in 84 innings while allowing just 69 hits and 27 walks. He posted a tiny 1.82 ERA in the second half and notched double-digit K's in four of his last eight starts.
The emergence was well timed for Jimenez, who hit the open market and scored a lucrative four-year deal with Baltimore. Now, we cautiously wait and see whether he can continue to excel at age 30 in the far more challenging AL East environment.
The coming week should serve as a good test, as Jimenez will face off against two tough divisional opponents -- New York in Yankee Stadium and Toronto at home.
He looked decent in his first turn, coughing up four runs on a pair of homers in six innings with six strikeouts. For now I'm listing him as a Decent Play, but I'll feel more comfortable with him as a weekly strong option if he handles business in these two starts.
A few additional notes on The Week Ahead...
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* The Tigers and Dodgers each play only five games, meaning no two-start pitchers for either team and limited opportunities for hitters.
* The Indians are scheduled to face lefty starters in five of their seven games. That could be great news for Ryan Raburn, who registered a 1020 OPS vs. southpaws last year.
* Bartolo Colon makes two starts on the road for the Mets. It's getting harder and harder to bet against this guy, even though he's 40 and throws in the mid-80s. He just keeps getting results. Nevertheless, I've got him as a risky play this week with matchups against good offenses in Atlanta and Anaheim.
Ivan Nova: BAL (Chen), BOS (Doubront)
Hiroki Kuroda: BAL (Jimenez), BOS (Lackey)
C.J. Wilson: @HOU (Cosart), NYM (Colon)
Mark Buehrle: HOU (Oberholtzer), @BAL (Jimenez)
Scott Kazmir: @MIN (Correia), @SEA (Ramirez)
Tanner Scheppers: @BOS (Lackey), HOU (Oberholtzer)
Matt Moore: @KC (Vargas), @CIN (Cingrani)
Jason Vargas: TB (Moore), @MIN (Correia)
Zach McAllister: SD (Erlin), @CWS (Quintana)
Corey Kluber: SD (Ross), @CWS (Paulino)
John Lackey: TEX (Scheppers), @NYY (Kuroda)
Ubaldo Jimenez: @NYY (Kuroda), TOR (Buehrle)
At Your Own Risk
Kevin Correia: OAK (Kazmir), KC (Vargas)
Jarred Cosart: LAA (Wilson), @TEX (Darvish)
Brett Oberholtzer: @TOR (Buehrle), @TEX (Scheppers)
Jose Quintana: @COL (Morales), CLE (McAllister)
Felipe Paulino: @COL (Lyles), CLE (Kluber)
Felix Doubront: TEX (Ross), @NYY (Nova)
Tim Hudson: ARI (Cahill), COL (Lyles)
Charlie Morton: @CHC (Jackson), @MIL (Lohse)
Kyle Kendrick: MIL (Lohse), MIA (Alvarez)
Edwin Jackson: PIT (Morton), @STL (Wacha)
Aaron Harang: NYM (Colon), WAS (Gonzalez)
Trevor Cahill: @SF (Hudson), LAD (Beckett)
At Your Own Risk
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Wednesday, 4/9: Jake Odorizzi @ KC
Throwing his strong stuff at a Royals lineup that last year posted a sub-700 OPS, Odorizzi offers nice potential in this road start.
Wednesday, 4/9: Jesse Chavez @ MIN
Chavez notched 55 strikeouts in 57 innings for the A's last year, was brilliant in spring training, and will face a weak and K-prone Minnesota lineup.
Friday, 4/11: Chris Young vs. OAK
How will Young fare in his return to the big leagues? We'll get an early look in this home matchup against Oakland. The righty put up a 2.40 ERA in spring play.
Tuesday, 4/8: Franklin Morales vs. CWS
Playing to protect his spot in the Rockies rotation, the pressure is on for Morales. He draws a favorable matchup here against the White Sox.
Wednesday, 4/9: Tanner Roark vs. MIA
Roark was phenomenal as a rookie last year, with a 1.51 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in 14 appearances. He'll look to carry that forward now as a full-time starter.
Thursday, 4/10: Travis Wood vs. PIT
It's tough to expect Wood to repeat last year's 3.11 ERA, which is why he's still unowned in most leagues, but his 15/2 K/BB ratio in spring was encouraging and we like him at home.
6: BAL, KC, LAA, MIN, NYY, OAK, TB, TEX, TOR
7: BOS, CWS, CLE, HOU, SEA
6: ARI, ATL, CHC, CIN, COL, MIA, MIL, NYM, PHI, PIT, SD, SF, STL, WAS
BAL: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
BOS: 3 vs. RHP, 4 vs. LHP
CLE: 2 vs. RHP, 5 vs. LHP
CWS: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
DET: 4 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
HOU: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
KC: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
LAA: 3 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
MIN: 3 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
NYY: 3 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
OAK: 6 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
SEA: 2 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
TB: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
TEX: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
TOR: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
ARI: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
ATL: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
CHC: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
CIN: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
COL: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
LAD: 4 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
MIA: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
MIL: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
NYM: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
PHI: 6 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
PIT: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
SD: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
SF: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
STL: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
WAS: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page but here's the latest on a few prominent players who have been out of action:
Nate Jones: Out indefinitely (hip)
Tyler Chatwood: Out until late April (hamstring)
Chris Young: Out until late April (quads)
Bobby Parnell: Out indefinitely (elbow)
Jose Reyes: Out until late April (hamstring)
Wilson Ramos: Out until May (hand)