Well, here we are, almost midway through the 2010 baseball season and we are all high but it’s not on goofballs. No, everyone wearing the purple and silver are high on the dominating pitching of Ubaldo Jimenez, who has improved to 13-1 on the season and is off to the best start in a season by a pitcher since Roger “’roids” Clemons went 14-0 back in 1986.
Already with a no-hitter under his belt, several complete games, an ERA of 1.15 and a record of 10-0 after a loss, Jimenez is baseball’s best pitcher. With two- and four-seam fastballs that clock in at 100 mph along with a quiver of nasty junk, Jimenez has confidence and control on the mound that nobody has really seen since Clemons’ historic start over 20 years ago. Jimenez has six nasty pitches: two- and four seam fastballs (with movement), splitter, slider, curveball, and changeup.
He makes great batters at the plate look silly. It could be in the second inning of the game or the eight inning of the game and these pros at the plate are stunned by the pitches and often don’t know what to do when Jimenez begins his wind up.
“If he’s throwing strikes,” Giants outfielder Aubrey Huff told ESPN Magazine, “it’s almost impossible. The best two-seamer I had faced was Josh Beckett’s: 96, 97 mph with a run of about six or seven inches. Well, this guy blows that out of the water. This is 97 with movement from corner to corner. And it’s not only his stuff; he hides it well, too. He’s a tall guy, and his arm angle makes hitting him even tougher.”
Jimenez and the Rockies find themselves in a tough race to the top of the National League West Division this year. As of Wednesday morning, after a great 2-1 win over the Red Sox (Ubaldo will have started against the Red Sox on Wednesday night), the Rockies find themselves in fourth place in the division at 37-33 and are currently four games behind division leading San Diego. With the American League East Division aside, the Rockies find themselves in the most competitive division in baseball and the pitching Jimenez is keeping them alive. If the Rockies start to slide, have no fear, Ubaldo will be taking the mound at some point in the next week and put an end to whatever losing streak the team may be embarking on. Who knew pitching is what would keep the Rockies alive?
In the organization’s short history, the Rockies, if they were to be known for anything, would be known for hitting in the Mile High City’s thin air. Remember the Blake Street Bombers? Those were some fun days. Pitching at Coors Field was a nightmare. None of the great pitchers could get any movement on their junk in the thin air…and being a pitcher for the Rockies meant that winning at home would always be a struggle. Then, a few years ago, the Rockies got smart and picked up a humidor to give baseballs the same feel they would have if they were being used at sea level and in humid climates. With that, the pitching in Coors Field has changed and not only do pitchers have a chance to work their magic, they have an opportunity to be nasty.
And that is where we are at with Ubaldo. He is as nasty as any pitcher in baseball history right now and he is doing it against every hitter he faces in every park he pitches in – including Coors Field.
It’s great to be able to talk about a Rockies pitcher as one of the best in history even if we are just 70 or so games into the 2010 season. Yes, there is a lot of baseball to play. And yes, Jimenez needs to keep it up to be a real “great” in baseball. But Jimenez is on track to be the Rockies first Cy Young award winner. He threw the first no hitter for the team, so why not be the first Cy Young winner? Seems like a safe bet to me.
My only hope now is that somehow or someway the Padres will slow their winning down a bit and give the Rockies a chance to get back to the top of the National League West. Maybe that will happen next Monday when the Rockies will travel to San Diego for a three game series. Baseball is as good as ever in Colorado right now.