Beware of Ubaldo in Baltimore
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Ubaldo Jimenez was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball during the second half last season with the Cleveland Indians and earned a four-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles in free agency, but I don't like his chances of getting his new town renamed Ubal-timore this summer.

I can't fault Jimenez for taking the $12.5-million-per-year offer from the O's, but leaving the comforts of Cleveland was not the best move for his fantasy value.

Jimenez' delivery has a lot of moving parts and can be very difficult to repeat consistently.

We saw what happened when he lost his optimal mechanics in 2011-12, as he posted a 5.03 ERA, a 1.50 WHIP, a 4.3 BB/9 and 8.0 K/9 in 365 innings.

The right-hander was at his best in 2009-10, recording a 3.17 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, a 3.6 BB/9 and an 8.4 K/9 over 439 2/3 frames, and new Indians manger Terry Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway helped him re-establish his top form in 2013.

After starting out with a 10.06 ERA, a 1.59 WHIP and a 5.82 BB/9 in his first four starts, Jimenez had a 2.61 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP and a 179/69 K/BB over his last 165 2/3 innings.

That included a 1.82 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and a 100/27 K/BB in 84 innings after the All-Star break, a run that helped him finish 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA, a 1.33 WHIP and a 194/80 K/BB over 182 2/3 innings on the season.

Heading to the Orioles means Jimenez will have to get used to a new city, new ballpark, new division, new manager, new pitching coach and new catcher.

That's a lot of change for a guy who has struggled with consistency.

While he won't miss facing the Detroit Tigers, who shelled him for 17 hits and 10 earned runs in 13 innings last season, so often, Jimenez had success versus Cleveland's other three division rivals.

Against the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins last year, Jimenez threw 61 innings and had a 2.66 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP and a 69/25 K/BB.

The Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays will replace Detroit, Kansas City, Chicago and Minnesota as his most frequent opponents in 2014.

As good as Jimenez was in 2013, he didn't completely turn the corner. He was still wild, walking the fourth most batters in the majors, and his four-seam fastball velocity (92.1 mph) didn't return to its peak 2007-2010 level of 95-97 mph.

While Jimenez was able to throw his fastball by batters more often in 2013 than he did in 2012 -- his chase rate was 26.7 percent, his contact rate was 83.1 percent and his swing-and-miss rate was 7.7 percent on the fastball in 2013, according to FanGraphs, compared to 15.7 percent, 90.1 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively, in 2012 -- when hitters did make contact with his fastball they hit it hard.

The right-hander's fastball line-drive rate was a career-worst 27 percent, and his fastball HR/FB was 14.3 percent.

Jimenez' mechanical concerns are grave enough that I'll be staying away from him in fantasy drafts, and they'll also prevent him from giving Maryland's largest city a new moniker in 2014.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.