It’s hard to kill the chainsaw-wielding horror movie villain. It’s also hard to keep Ubaldo Jimenez out of the Orioles starting rotation. Yes, that’s right. He’s back, or at least, he will be on Sunday. Manager Buck Showalter announced before Friday’s game that Jimenez would be rejoining the rotation for the series finale against the Cardinals.
Apparently a four start audition for Alec Asher is all that he was going to get. Granted, they have not been very good starts at all, with Asher pitching just 17.1 innings in that time and posting a 9.87 ERA over those four starts. That is indeed pretty bad, and in fact, worse than Jimenez was pitching, although Asher probably deserved more of a chance.
The move is more a sign that there are no good answers for the Orioles rotation right now than anything. A team with a functioning roster would not need or want Jimenez back in there any time soon. The Orioles, as evidenced by their losing 23 of their last 33 games, do not have a functioning roster right now.
This was the justification offered for the move by Showalter:
Buck Showalter cited Asher's success in relief and Jimenez not being able to bounce back as quickly from his relief outings.— Luke Jones (@BaltimoreLuke) June 16, 2017
As ever, Showalter knows far more about managing a baseball team than I ever will, but that’s reasoning that sounds like desperation more than anything else. It reads like Showalter is effectively admitting that Jimenez is not able to provide any value whatsoever out of the bullpen, so he’s just throwing him back into the rotation, damn the torpedoes.
The Orioles don’t need Asher in the bullpen. They need starting pitchers who aren’t getting shelled daily. Easier said than done on that front, of course.
Maybe it will even work out. Who knows? Jimenez has come back fine from previous bullpen exiles - it’s sad that there’s been more than one - and despite what I wrote above, it’s true that Asher in the bullpen is probably better than Jimenez in the bullpen.
Even out of the pen, Jimenez never pitched with less than three days rest. That would be fine if Jimenez was one of the guys on the Norfolk-Baltimore shuttle who gets optioned as soon as they pitch three innings and can’t pitch again for three days, but that’s not Jimenez. He’s out there taking up a spot.
If he can’t help the rotation and he can’t help the bullpen, what are they doing with him? It seems they are once again kicking the can down the road on making a final determination that Jimenez can’t help the team in any way.
Perhaps if this return to the Orioles starting rotation goes poorly, they will finally decide that they have seen enough of Jimenez. I hope that he turns things around and does well for the rest of the year. The Orioles need that and what’s more, Jimenez deserves it. But sometimes deserve’s got nothing to do with it. You have to pitch well to get results. Jimenez has not pitched well and his results reflect that.