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Second Thoughts: Game #21 - Indians 2, White Sox 7

Second Thoughts: Game #21 - Indians 2, White Sox 7
May 2, 2012
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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
CLE 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 6 2
CHW 0 1 4 1 1 0 0 0 X 7 8 1
W: Sale (3-1) L: Jimenez (2-2)

Starting Pitching

The Line: 4.2IP, 8H, 7/4 R/ER. 6BB, K. GIDP

The Results: 105 pitches, 51% strikes, 10GB, 5FB, PO, LO, 2LD

The Write-up: There isn’t much left to be said about Ubaldo Jimenez at this point. He is a mechanical mess (illustrated from his last start), his velocity is non-elite and he completely went off the cliff last night in regards to his control. Six walks is unacceptable from your starting pitcher and is typically a sign that he is battling an injury which hinders his ability to control his pitches. I don’t think anyone ever thought that Ubaldo would have top-rate command (i.e. the ability to throw a strike over certain parts of the plate), but I do think the front-office believed that he would have control (i.e. the ability to throw strikes).

I certainly have no novel ideas about how to “fix” Ubaldo, but simplification of his motion needs to be considered. That many moving parts is just bound to go wrong. A small piece of errata, and something that is worrisome for Indians fans: of the top 8 worst K:BB guys in the MLB, the Indians hold down #2, #3 and #8. This is a huge concern as the Indians essentially have more than their staff that issue more free passes than they can generate strikeouts. After Ubaldo’s wild night, he now sits at 20 BB’s and 14 K’s, which wrestles 2nd away from the much-vaunted Derek Lowe. Unless these trends stop, look for more outings like Ubaldo’s tonight and look for Lowe to start getting touched up for more runs if he can’t limit the walks and/or generate strikeouts.

The Bullpen

The Line: 3.1IP, 0H, 0BB, 2K

The Results: 36 pitches, 72% strikes, 4GB, 2FB, PO, LO

The Write-up: Jairo Ascencio stopped the bleeding when Ubaldo couldn’t and then pitched two more flawless innings. Nick Hagadone, up for good in my opinion, needed just 5 pitches to work a scoreless 8th. The Indians bullpen is really a thing to behold and Manny Acta is getting a sense of how and when to deploy the various guys at his disposal.

Through a small fluke (the one time Ubaldo went 7 innings, the game went extra innings), but the average # of relievers needed during an Ubaldo start is 3.9. Even if you remove the extra innings, you still have an average of 3 relievers needed and an average of less than six innings from your front-line starter. I credit Manny Acta with sticking with Jairo through 2.1 innings, a rarity with relievers, because it is stretched out over 3 separate trips to the mound. He only needed 31 pitches to get through his 7 outs and he looked incredibly in control. He won’t be dominant all year, but having a swing guy that can keep you where you are in a game and protect that bullpen for the rest of the series is huge for a manager and the club’s psyche.

The Starting Lineup

The Line: 6/33, 2 2B, HR, 2BB, SB, CS

The Results: 2R, 11TB, 11LOB, AVG/OBP/SLG 182/250/333

The Write-up: Chris Sale seems to have the Indians’ number. He controlled them April 9th and he controlled them last night as well. This shouldn’t be too surprising as the Indians are a heavy left-leaning lineup and Sale has a low ¾ “sling” delivery that is very difficult to pick up from the left side of the plate. Shelley Duncan and Jason Kipnis were the only two bright spots accounting for 5 of the 6 hits and 10 of the 11 total bases. They scored both runs and accounted for both RBI’s.

Carlos Santana was off-balance against Sale and jumped out on his front-foot in two of his at bats, once squibbing the ball in front of the plate and another time lunging but keeping the hands back long enough to launch one into medium-deep left field that was caught about shoulder high by Dayan Viciedo. I can’t talk about Carlos without talking about the other legitimate threat in the Indians lineup: Jason Kipnis. He turned in some incredible AB’s last night. The RBI double to left was hard hit, and came on a 1-2 slider moving away from him. It was well done to go to the opposite field and take what was given rather than trying to pull a ball and weakly ground out to the right side.

Shelley Duncan had been struggling of late, but a left-handed starter was just what the doctor ordered. He went 2-3 with a 2B, HR, 2R and a BB. Going into last night’s game, Shelley Duncan has hit a line-drive on a whopping 36% of AB’s against left-handed pitching and only 16% of the time against righties. His career splits aren’t that pronounced, but the fact remains that Shelley Duncan is not only a capable batter against left-handed pitching, he is a force. The problem, of course, is that only about 30% of starting pitchers are left-handed. This is why Shelley Duncan has not been a starter for any Major League team up until this point and, ultimately, why Johnny Damon (and Grady Sizemore to some extent) was brought into the fold.

The Defense

No bright spots here. Cabrera looked lost out there last night, losing two infield pop-ups and booting the most routine groundball you could ask for. Granted, one of the infield pop-ups was sent up into a smoke screen created by the fireworks shot off from a home run, but the error and second infield pop had no such excuse. Cabrera is pretty well known for having below average range, so he absolutely must make the routine plays. Also, you have to think that MLB will do something about the firework displays because it caused a delay after the 1st homer run and then materially impacted the on field results after the 2nd home run.

Lou Marson didn’t throw out any of the three runners who ran on him, but the first two while Ubaldo was pitching were not his fault at all. STO showed one replay where you could see Ubaldo’s release and Brent Morel running, and Morel had five steps down before Ubaldo released the ball. The other attempt with Ubaldo was similar, and Lou threw a strike that got there at the same time as De Aza and hit him in the chest as he slid into 2nd. Still, we are talking about a league leader in Throw Out % last year and a really spectacular defensive catcher.

The Takeaways

Ubaldo Jimenez is nowhere near “bring right” right now. He has bad mechanics and even worse control. You can’t win a game in which your starter goes 4.2 innings and walks 6 batters. Of course, only having three starters get hits also hurts your chances because of the inability to cluster them together and create a rally. If there is a silver lining to the game, it is that the bullpen was not overused and hopefully the series  can still be saved by a better overall performance the rest of the way. Let’s look forward to our first Johnny Damon experience tonight and hope that he sparks a better performance in a critical divisional series.

User Comments

Jim
May 2, 2012 - 11:23 PM EDT
Don't get Tony and I rolling on Ubaldo again...we may end up doing the next two Smoke Signals on each one of his pitches, and how utterly horrid it is...

The guy stinks...period...and it's a stretch to call him a #3 starter at this point.

Pomeranz won't be a #3...and White...while looking at a potential bullpen spot at some point, he's pitching extremely well in Triple A as a starter. He's 1-3, but has a 2.92 ERA, with 21 K's and 8 walks. Not saying that translates, but with Moyer looking every bit the 98-year-old starter that he is...well...White could fill in.

Just saying...I'd take a #1/#2 starter...and Alex White any day of the week.

I'd take White straight up...to be honest...
Marc
May 2, 2012 - 4:00 PM EDT
The sad thing is we will never know how good Pomeranz really may be, Colorado is where pitchers go to die.......Ubaldo is a mess he has shown no signs that he is going to put himself back together, I would even take Fausto/Roberto over him any day at this point.
Seth
May 2, 2012 - 11:47 AM EDT
If Pomeranz turns into a #3 type, it's still a big loss, unless Ubaldo does an about face and soon. You're talking about having control of Pomeranz and White until 2017. Where Ubaldo is right now, he's literally about the worst starter in MLB (4th from the bottom in FIP). Not only would Pomeranz or White be preferable, much less Pomeranz AND White, Zach McAllister would likely be better. I will be pleasantly surprised if Ubaldo is even in the majors 3 months from now, or if the Indians are even in position to consider picking up his option next year. Which was also my thought at the time of the trade. They will of course never drop him from the rotation after that trade, even if his ERA is 6+ in July, unless they simultaneously fire Antonetti ... Don't trade for guys on the DL or pitchers who've mysteriously lost velocity. Should be like the first rule of being a GM.
Tony
May 2, 2012 - 11:32 AM EDT
Utter and epic fail. I see absolutely no light at the end of the tunnel with Jimenez. Just darkness. Wow. There is still time for him to salvage this trade somewhat, but based on what we have seen so far, I don't see it happening. May go down as one of the worst trades in Indians' history....maybe the worst if Pomeranz and White are core pieces to the Rockies' staff the next 6 years! I gave the Indians' the benefit of the doubt at the time of the deal as I thought maybe they knew something or saw something correctable....but wow, were they ever wrong. It happens and the way the game is, but you just can't be this wrong on trades of this magnitude.
Charlie
May 2, 2012 - 11:07 AM EDT
I agree that Ubaldo, clearly, is under-performing, but something to consider is what Pomeranz and White have done so far. Let's say, for example, that White turns into just a reliever, which is likely, and Pomeranz doesn't blossom into the front-line, that some think he will.

At this point you have given up a reliever and a future #3 for a current #3. While this clearly isn't what everyone thought/hoped we would be getting back, it isn't a travesty.

At the end of the day, pitching prospects are so difficult to predict and so injury prone that getting a guy who has "made it" and who has proved he can go 200 innings is trading uncertainty for certainty.

I'm not a fan of the trade and I argued at the time that it didn'tmatch the organization horizon for contention, but it was aggressive and there is rationale behind it. It just looks bad as of now because Ubaldo has beengoing so poorly, he is still an incredibly live arm that has bounce back potential....I am in the "he is just bad right now" camp not in the "he is just bad" camp. Still, if Pomeranz turns into that #1.....we will kick ourselves every 5thday when we read the box scores.
shy
May 2, 2012 - 11:04 AM EDT
Always good inside baseball insights Charlie. If Antonetti had asked you before getting bf'd by Dan O'Dowd we would still have Drew Pomeranz and the team would be substantially better and there would be more fans in the stands. You can't have a person running the front office executing trades that can't tell what's up when they're watching a pitcher
Ken B
May 2, 2012 - 10:20 AM EDT
I totally agree with Bob. What other team gives up their top pitching prospect?! Oh, and two other high pitching prospects as well for this guy?1 I would like to know how the meeting went when Indians management decided on this trade. Somebody needs to be accountable!!!!!!
Bob Collins
May 2, 2012 - 8:41 AM EDT
I thought it was a terrible, terrible trade when it was made, and UrBADo has shown me nothing since. Good job, again, Shapiro.

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