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Second Thoughts Game #12: Red Sox 7, Indians 2

Ubaldo stymied in second as Sox plate seven leading to win

Second Thoughts Game #12: Red Sox 7, Indians 2
April 17, 2013
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Ubaldo Jimenez: When is the last straw?

Ubaldo Jimenez had arguably his worst outing as an Indians pitcher and possibly the worst of his career last night.

The right-hander didn’t even make it out of the second inning as the Red Sox tagged him for seven runs on only two hits all in only two thirds of the second inning. Jimenez walked the bases loaded twice and walked in a run twice. He exited with two outs in the second and the bags juiced and the sparse crowd at Progressive Field made sure he knew it as the boo birds rained down on the once time Cy Young contender.

So the question now is how long the leash is for Jimenez?

Well, it isn’t as long as it’s been when the Indians first acquired him in 2011, but one has to wonder if that leash has been cinched up more after these last two disastrous starts by the right hander. However, with now-limited depth in AAA after Carlos Carrasco has taken himself out of big league consideration indefinitely, it seems that the Indians have no choice but to stick with Jimenez a bit longer, barring a trade for another major league starter. But it’s clear that a growing majority of fans have had enough.

Clutch-hitting still a problem

Hitting with runners in scoring position. It doesn’t seem all that complicated, yet the Indians have struggled with it heavily dating back to last season.

Tuesday was more of the same as the Tribe made Red Sox starter Felix Doubront and the bullpen work, but only managed to scrape together two runs over the course of nine innings. Despite getting on base 12 total times, including loading the bases in the fifth, the Indians only went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base by the end of the night.

The good news is the Indians have a lineup that we know can be better than what it showed on Tuesday. Perhaps it’s just the new hitters adjusting to a change of scenery and still learning what to expect from their new teammates, or maybe the injuries up and down the lineup have affected the lineup's consistency. Be that as it may, the runners-in-scoring-position issue has to be remedied now in the early goings of the season before it becomes another inherent problem like last season.

Bullpen Mafia to the rescue!

While the end result may have still been unpleasant, it wasn’t all doom and gloom at the ballpark on Tuesday night.

After Jimenez was pulled in the second inning, the well-rested Indians bullpen got to work. Right-hander Cody Allen was summoned first to get the final out and stop the bleeding for Jimenez. Well, unfortunately Allen couldn’t do that right away as he served up a three-run double to Mike Napoli to up Jimenez’s run total to seven. After that, however, the Red Sox couldn’t do much of anything against Tribe relievers.

Allen pitched a career-high three innings with no earned runs allowed on four hits, a walk and six strikeouts. Left-hander Nick Hagadone relieved him in the fifth and put up two more shutout innings without allowing a hit and striking out three. Rich Hill, another Southpaw, pitched a shutout inning striking out two. And it all came down to newly-acquired reliever Bryan Shaw, who relieved Hill with two outs in the eighth and finished the game striking out all four Red Sox hitters he faced.

Combined, the Indians bullpen pitched seven shutout innings allowing only four hits, four walks and striking out 15 batters.

Quick Game Facts:

  • Ubaldo Jimenez is only the fourth pitcher in Cleveland Indians history to give up seven runs and five walks in the first two innings of a start.
  • In addition to pitching a career-high three innings in one game, Cody Allen set career highs in strikeouts (6) and number of pitches (52) in a single game.
  • The Indians didn’t even draw 10,000 on Tuesday night. Paid attendance was only 9,143.

Up Next: Red Sox vs. Indians @ Progressive Field. 7:05 ET first pitch.

The Indians will call upon their ace Justin Masterson once again to right the ship and even up the series as he will toe the rubber against his former team.

Masterson has arguably been one of the most effective and dominant starting pitchers in Major League Baseball to start the season as he has gone 3-0 with an 0.41 ERA. Masterson has only allowed one run in 22 innings and is coming off a complete game shutout against the White Sox. Opposing him will be right-hander Alfredo Aceves, who is making just his second start of the year after being promoted from the bullpen. Aceves has struggled thus far in 2013 allowing seven runs in nine and a third innings of work.

Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.

User Comments

April 17, 2013 - 2:26 PM EDT
I don't disagree with that at all Tony. Kazmir is incredibly important to us at this point because if he either isn't healthy or isn't any good, we're essentially screwed. No way to fix 3 holes in the rotation with the list of internal and external candidates. Two holes is even a big task. But I tend to have a little more faith in Myers than I do in Ubaldo. Like Kluber, I think he is good enough to throw up some quality starts for another few months. With him, I think there is still room to say "let's see how he does" but with Ubaldo he's been given plenty of time.
April 17, 2013 - 2:08 PM EDT
I agree that Kluber is no worse and probably better, but the lack of options hurts the Indians here. With Myers a disaster and the 5th spot unsettled, we may have to insert Kluber into one of those two spots if Myers continues to struggle or Kazmir is not 100% when he comes back Saturday or struggles.

Bottom line, the Indians have three giant black holes in the rotation. It is important that Kazmir comes back and is healthy and performs well so it helps clear up on spot, and then the Indians need to decide which one of Myers/Ubaldo to pull the plug on and replace with Kluber. The situation would be much clearer if the other four spots in the rotation were okay.....but since they are not it is still not a sure thing to let Ubaldo go because they may also have to let Myers go and may have to still fill the 5th spot in the rotation.
April 17, 2013 - 1:58 PM EDT
is the lack of options really an issue with Ubaldo? If they DFA him, it's not like someone would claim him, right? And if someone did claim him on waivers, that would actually be a good thing for the Indians because they'd be off the hook for the $5 million. I was okay with them being patient with him, but man, his last two starts were just horrific, and it seems really unlikely he can fix things at the major league level. As shaky as Carrasco, Bauer and Kluber have been, they would all likely give them a better chance to win than Ubaldo. It actually may not be a bad idea to just DFA him now, he almost certainly won't be claimed by anyone else, and they can then assign him to AAA, where maybe he can actually get things straightened out. Call up Carrasco, then could call up Kluber to make one start if needed while Carrasco serves out his suspension. Keep Bauer in the minors working on his mechanics.
April 17, 2013 - 1:25 PM EDT

Even if Kluber seems to a fringy AAAA type starter, it's practically impossible for him to be as bad as Ubaldo has been since last year. Who cares if he's not a long term solution? Neither is Ubaldo. Kluber gave us 5 or more innings in 9 of his 12 starts last year. Right off the bat, that's better than Ubaldo. He never walked more than 3 batters in any of his 12 starts, and in 9 of the 12 he walked 2 or fewer. Check and check.

This is a no-brainer at this point. You're paying Ubaldo either way, and at this point it's better for the team to pay him to NOT pitch than it is to pay him TO pitch. If you can't find a long term solution outside of the organization, you find somebody who can hold the fort from within in the organization. Kluber absolutely can give us some quality starts for the next few months.
April 17, 2013 - 1:06 PM EDT
Thanks Joe!

As for Ubaldo and completing a trade for an innings eater.....the problem is such a pitcher is simply not available right now. Those options will become available in mid-June, which means for now if the Indians want to replace Ubaldo it will have to be with someone from within or acquire a broken down starter in a trade with health issues (Lilly) or in free agency (Oswalt).
April 17, 2013 - 1:01 PM EDT
At this point in time, I would guess the best option would be a trade for a decent innings eating starter. We do have some assets that could bring one, at least for the short term. I understand your point Tony, but almost 2 years of Ubaldo is enough. He has too many little men running around in his head to turn this thing around. We can't afford to keep running him out there every 5 days, and virtually giving away win opportunities. Any hope of contention this year will slowly drift away if he stays in the rotation.
Sad to see the crowd size last night. Obviously the fans are of the same mindset. Very little chance of winning, why go ?
On a much better note, congrats Tony on your test results. There is some good news today !!!!
April 17, 2013 - 12:49 PM EDT
I think Common Cents nailed it. Ubaldo needs to realize that he doesn't need to throw 100 mph to be effective anymore. He has good enough pitches to be effective. I was at the game and his breaking ball last night did look pretty good, but his fastball was all over the place, especially way up high.

His 2-strike pitch selection was particularly awful. On several occasions in his short outing he threw a 2-strike pitch where the hitter wouldn't even think of swinging at, which led to most, if not all his walks last night.

It was clear the confidence he had built up in spring training is completely shattered and he's just about completely lost the feel for his mechanics. At times, it felt like his mechanics changed pitch-by-pitch.

Unfortunately unless the ownership and front office decide to go the extra mile and trade for another major league starter now, Ubaldo will be staying in the rotation for at least a few more starts. Calling up Bauer long-term this early could damage his future value. Carrasco will not be an option for a while until the Indians are sure they can trust him again. Dice-K and Kluber could be options, but they're not long term solutions and may not fare much better than Ubaldo.
April 17, 2013 - 12:09 PM EDT
At this point, the Indians only solution is to keep sending Ubaldo out there. The sample size for the season is just three games so he needs more time. Granted, he's been terrible over his entire Indians career and the worst starter in baseball since the All Star break last year......but they can't make a change with him so early in the season.

Part of this is a lack of options. Their alternatives at this point are a still green Bauer, an immature Carrasco, a fungible guy in Kluber, and a broken down Dice K. Sure, all of those guys probably are no worse.....but I am not sure they are any better either. I'd rather leave Bauer alone for a little bit, Carrasco needs banished, and I am no fan of Kluber or Dice K long term. And there are no trade options as even a guy like Ted Lilly brings injury/performance concerns.

That said, I think Ubaldo gets 3-4 more starts. If he continues to struggle he HAS to be taken out of the starting rotation. The Indians can't fake an injury and they can't send him to the minors, so at that point they would simply have to DFA him or banish him to long relief.
April 17, 2013 - 11:57 AM EDT
You know your rotation is in bad shape when:

The first thing that crosses your mind is "man, we really need Scott Kazmir to come up big."

If for once in my lifetime the Indians actually get a break that goes their way, and Kazmir can step up and lock down a rotation spot, the Jimenez issue becomes much more manageable. Corey Kluber is a capable #5 starter. He's not going to win you a bunch of games on his own, but he will certainly keep you in more games than can be counted on from Ubaldo at this point.

In terms of pure stuff, Carlos Carrasco looked better than we've ever seen him the other night. He could be a mid-season callup once he irons out his control. Trevor Bauer can also be a mid-season call up once he irons out his delivery. In a perfect situation, we wouldn't have seen either of those two in the big leagues yet, so the fact that they struggled in one outing isn't shocking. I still believe both can be very good major league SP's.

So give Ubaldo maybe one more start, which would come against the lowly Astros if they don't push him back. If he is this bad against THAT team, you cut ties with him and replace him with Kluber. Masterson-McAllister-Myers-Kazmir-Kluber. No hall of famers there, but it's good enough to keep us in the race until Bauer and/or Carrasco get it figured out in the minors.
April 17, 2013 - 11:26 AM EDT
Can't send Ubaldo down, he doesn't have options.

Can't put him on the DL unless he's actually injured. Only a guy like Giambi who knows his career is over is willing to do stuff like that. Ubaldo is hoping for another contract. He'd never accept that.

People need to think a little bit before posting these ludicrous trade ideas. No one is going to take Cord Phelps (4A player) and Lou Marson (at best a backup catcher) for a player their organization values. Dan Straily is a 24 year old Starting Pitcher with success in limited Major League exposure. The A's control him for 6 more seasons and view him as a legitimate SP option. Why would they take 2 spare parts for him?
April 17, 2013 - 11:11 AM EDT
I think they give Wildbaldo maybe one more start and he's gone,, I'm not sure how he gets removed from the roster or the particulars of his contract. but It doesn't matter how much they have to pay him- just because a player's contract hurts you at the bank doesn't mean you have to let him hurt you on the field, suck it up, write it off, bust a move. Jimenez is poison, the team changes it's whole approach when he's on the mound because they're in a hole early and the games seems unwinnable. Yes the RISP numbers are no good, granted there are some guys like Dru Cabrera and Jason Kipnis that are not hitting their weight. and you have some guys who are known to strike out alot, but the pressing and overswinging always becomes exaggerated when you're down several runs in the first few innings. I'm sure Antonetti and Francona are having this discussion. I think Kazmir, Carrasco and Bauer will all get chances and probably the 2 with the best command and fewest meltdown innings will stay in the rotation. Dan Straily is out there. They may have to give up Cord Phelps and Lou Marson to get him. Having seen all these guys play, that's a deal I would pursue.
Common Cents
April 17, 2013 - 11:00 AM EDT
At this point it should be fairly evident that Ubaldo is a lost cause. The velocity he had in 2010 is never coming back. He's still got some good offspeed stuff and his fastball comes in on a good plane with at least adequate velocity, but his command is dreadful. I don't see him lasting in the starting rotation for very long; either he's released, traded for a very mediocre minor league prospect or put in the bullpen.

All we can hope for is Scott Kazmir to fill the void. Bauer and Carrasco's starts were discouraging. For the Indians to compete, they need two starters two emerge (beyond Masterson and McAllister) and we've not seen any signs of that thus far in 2013.
April 17, 2013 - 10:47 AM EDT
Maybe they could put on Ubaldo on the 15 day disabled list to get his head sorted out and to get some much needed rehab starts to somehow recapture what mechanics he had in the rehab assignment. As of right now his frustration is such that he cant fix whatever is ailing his head by going out there and getting his lunch handed to him. I am not sure whether the CBA allows that kind of move but it is worth a try. Or maybe a back injury from watching hits go by his head into center field
Something has to give and sending him out there every 5th day isnt the answer so perhaps the DL is the answer.
April 17, 2013 - 10:44 AM EDT
Posted this in the other thread too but how many more starts do they give Jimenez before sending him down to AAA to work on it?
Rich Smith
April 17, 2013 - 10:42 AM EDT
If the Indians hadn't paid such a high price to trade for Jiminez, there is no way they would have picked up his option. I hate that the Indians wasted the $6.75 million. They could have used that money better. One definition of insanity is to do the same thing over again and expect different results. The Indians front office deserves these results because they made a political decision instead of a logical decision to cut their losses while they could.

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