There’s no time like the present for Ubaldo Jimenez.
Not that the Cleveland Indians need to tell their hurler, though. The hurler only has to look at the guy ahead of him in the rotation to be well aware of the expectations that will be heaped upon his final handful of starts in 2013 as his team heads into the final stretch of the season at just 3.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot.
With Justin Masterson potentially out for the remainder of the season with an oblique strain, the Tribe simply need Jimenez to keep turning back the clock.
That’s a bit of a misnomer, I suppose, as the righty is simply never going to be the knockout ace he once was — you know, back when he still had that high-90s fastball that ran in on batters and was impossible to hit.
Still, that doesn’t mean he can’t be a productive member of the starting rotation, which is exactly what he’s been for the majority of the season.
Even though that could be considered a minor victory in itself given how his time in Cleveland has went over the last couple of years, the team now needs him to do more. Whether he can or not and whether the team wants it or not, Jimenez is once again the leader of the starting rotation … regardless of what the results may be.
Fortunately for the Tribe, the 29-year old seem more than ready for the opportunity.
Don’t believe me? Take it from the Baltimore Orioles, who were held back for six innings while Jimenez was on the mound, not being able to manage a single run through those frames in a key playoff race matchup and managing just four hits, while drawing just a pair of free passes against the starter.
Jimenez needed just 90 pitches to get through his outing, which also included four strikeouts, and that he outdueled the Orioles’ (also unlikely) ace Chris Tillman with both teams being in the thick of the race shouldn’t be understated.
Was he dominant? Far from it. But was he effective enough? Well, the 4-3 final score for the Indians tell you all you need to know about that.
Though it’s going to be difficult for Jimenez to be ever be truly worth the assets (and money) the Indians gave up for his production over the last two years, this is a “what have you done for me lately?” sport, and getting his team to the playoffs will go a long way towards that redemption.