The Cleveland Indians made plenty of offseason moves this Winter as fan-favorite Shin Soo-Choo was dealt to the Cincinnati Reds and Terry Francona is now the club’s manager but, the success will hinge on the pitching staff an Ubaldo Jimenez in particular.
In my mind, if the Indians inconsistent pitching staff doesn’t get a great season from Jimenez they will wind up under .500 and at the bottom of a very competitive MLB AL Central yet again.
Since being dealt to Cleveland he has a 5.32 ERA and has a pitching record of 13-21 in 42 starts. In one of the most shocking turn of events Jimenez has seemed to have lost his ability to get guys out and looks nothing like he did in 2010 with the Colorado Rockies where he was third in NL Cy Young Voting.
Three seasons ago he led the league in winning percentage with a 19-8 record and also was incredibly effective with a 2.88 ERA and four complete games. It’s quite possible that this Jimenez is gone forever, but the Indians need some kind of spark from him in order to compete in 2013.
Aside from Justin Masterson the Indians rotation is made up off three other guys who have battled from starter and reliever their entire careers–even Masterson struggled with a 4.93 ERA last summer.
Oddly enough the Indians bullpen is one of the best in the league headlined by closer Chris Perez and shut-down reliever Vinne Pestano–both will be crucial pieces for the Indians moving forward.
The hope that Indians fans can retain is that Francona can stir up this under-performing starting rotation and get full potential from recent washouts like Jimenez.