Coming off two poor campaigns, Ubaldo Jimenez's 2016 season was a wild tale of two halves. The veteran righty was brutal prior to the All-Star break, posting a 7.38 ERA while allowing an .892 OPS to opposing hitters over 81.2 innings. He redeemed himself a bit during the second half of the season and was a key contributor to the Orioles' playoff push. In 60.2 innings after the break, Jimenez posted 2.82 ERA while allowing a much-improved .573 OPS. He finished the year with a cumulative 5.44 ERA, 19.6 percent strikeout rate and 11.3 percent walk rate. True to form, the 32-year-old reverted to his old ways by allowing three runs and getting tagged with the loss during the final inning of the dramatic AL Wild Card Game. Jimenez should again be a part of the team's starting rotation in 2017, and while he may best his full season ratios from 2016, he is too risky to be treated as anything more than an endgame play in deep mixers and AL-only leagues.
Jimenez dished four innings, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks while striking out five Blue Jays in Tuesday's Grapefruit League game. Jimenez said that one of his primary goals this season is to be more efficient and pitch deeper into games. He's failed to achieve this objective through his first five spring starts. The 33-year-old walked two batters, had three full counts and threw 27 pitches in just the first inning Tuesday. If Jimenez has any fantasy value left in the tank, then it would be extremely minimal and for deep AL-only leagues only.
Jimenez tossed three scoreless innings, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out one in Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Rays. The Rays worked Jimenez for 21 pitches in the bottom of the first inning, which included a walk and a wild pitch, but the righty induced a double play to wiggle out of the jam. Jimenez settled down and dealt 14 of 17 pitches for strikes in the second frame and tacked on 11 pitches in the third to finish the day at 49. He retired seven of the last eight batters he faced, allowing only an infield hit during that stretch. Through two spring starts, the 33-year-old has allowed one run on six hits and one walk while notching just one strikeout over five innings.
Jimenez tossed 29 pitches over two innings, allowing one run on three hits while not recording a walk or strikeout, in Monday's spring game against the Yankees. Jimenez was satisfied with his overall performance in his spring debut. After the game, the veteran said he's working to avoid deep counts this season. "I think that's what I was able to do in the last part of the  season. That was attacking the strike zone, getting ahead and staying ahead. That's going to save me a lot of pitches and going to allow me to get deeper in the games," the southpaw told reporters after the game. Over the past three seasons, Jimenez has worked his way into a full count against a whopping 17.5 percent of the hitters he's faced. Last year, he averaged a career-worst 5.1 innings per start.
Jimenez believes the key to his 2017 success will be the ability to stay consistent on the hill, Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun reports. Jimenez's ERA was above 7.20 in three of the six months last season. In each of the other months, the veteran posted an ERA below 3.95, including a season-best 2.31 mark in September. Prior to the All-Star break, Jimenez owned a 7.38 ERA over 81.2 innings while opposing hitters tagged him for a .320 BAA. The right-hander bounced back with a 2.82 ERA while holding opponents to a .183 average over 60.2 innings after the Midsummer Classic. The Orioles deployed a six-man rotation to end 2016, but with Yovani Gallardo dealt to Seattle in the offseason, Jimenez appears in line for more work in 2017.
Jimenez is likely to be Wednesday's starter against the Red Sox, MASN Sports reports. Jimenez has been pretty sharp over his last five starts. After tossing three quality starter in a row, he allowed four runs in seven innings last Friday. However, he did not walk a batter in that game, something that is a rarity for Jimenez who routinely struggles with control.