Since they began the season 11-2, the Rockies have gone 6-7. They are batting only .237, which is 12th in the National League, but rank fourth with 123 runs, an average of 4.73 per game, and tied for sixth with 24 home runs.
Getting their offense going is a priority for the Rockies, and the assumption is they will hit. But despite their 17-9 start, the question that looms over the club is: What's the matter with ace right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez?
"If I had the answer, we'd have fixed it, and we've have fixed it a heck of a lot sooner than May 1," manager Jim Tracy said. "So your guess is as good as mine right now."
Jimenez lasted only four innings Sunday against the Pirates in his shortest of four starts this season. He has pitched six innings only once, on Opening Day April 1 against the Diamondbacks.
And while wobbling through that sixth inning, Jimenez, who was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the inning, gave up a two-run home run to Miguel Montero that gave Arizona a 6-3 lead.
Jimenez is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA. He has pitched 20 innings and thrown 374 pitches or an average of 18.7 per inning. That's up from last year when he averaged 16.2 pitches per inning while leading the National League with 3,600 pitches.
The Rockies are 0-4 in Jimenez's starts, a stark departure from last season, when he went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA, and they were 22-11 when he pitched.
"Yeah, certainly we're concerned," Tracy said. "You're 17-9, and the ace of your staff hasn't thrown a pitch in the (seventh) inning. We don't have a win from him, obviously. ...
"I'm just wondering where we would if the consistency of this man that we've grown very accustomed to was showing up. But right now, it's not."
Jimenez was slowed during spring training by a cut right thumb cuticle that became infected. He cut the cuticle again leading up to his April 1 start but avoided an infection.
Nonetheless, he missed two starts while on the 15-day disabled list and didn't pitch against for the Rockies until April 19.
Jimenez threw 48 of 88 pitches for strikes in his four-inning outing against the Pirates when he gave up four runs (all in the second), six hits, four walks (one intentional) and threw three wild pitches.
"I guess I know what I have to do," Jimenez said. "Hopefully, I learn how to throw a strike again. I have to find out by myself. I have to find a way to figure it out."
Jimenez said he's healthy, and Tracy said he has not been informed otherwise by the Rockies' training staff. While Jimenez's velocity has returned, his command has been very inconsistent.
"I have the power back, but I don't have the command," Jimenez said. "I have to pull all those things together. It's probably mental and mechanical. I'm trying to reach back and see my velocity out there, but I'm lacking the control on my fastball."
Jimenez said he's not worried about himself, but for the team, since he hasn't been of any help through the first month of the season. "For me, I never give up," he said. "I'm going to find a way to get back and just keep working."
Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.