This afternoon we'll be treated to game two of Toronto and Cleveland's opening series with two of the more interesting pitchers in the game today. Ubaldo Jimenez' incident with the Colorado Rockies and former teammate Troy Tulowitzki has been well-documented – he will be starting this game only because his suspension from major league baseball is currently on appeal – but that is only one element of why he and Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow will be well worth watching this season.
Brandon Morrow has been one of the most confounding pitchers in the entire sport, posting peripheral numbers (like his insane 10.06 career K/9) that seem ace-worthy, yet for the past two seasons he has owned ERAs on the wrong side of 4.40. Ubaldo Jimenez is yet another poster-boy for ERAs that don't line up with his peripherals, as his xFIP has remained remarkably constant the past three years (3.59, 3.60, 3.71) yet his ERA has been all over the place (3.47, 2.88, 4.68). The Cleveland Indians surely hoping they're getting the Jimenez of 2010 rather than the one of 2011, but if his spring stats are any indication (15 walks in 23 innings) they may not get their wish.
All things considered, this game is a pretty important one for the Blue Jays to win (assuming we can assign 'importance' to games this early in the season). Really, any game that Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow start is an important one for the Jays to win at this juncture. We have no idea what Kyle Drabek has in store for us this year, our starting pitcher tomorrow – Joel Cerrano – is probably replacement-level fodder, and Henderson Alvarez does not have nearly the track record to inspire any significant level of faith as the de facto number three starter in this rotation.
The good news is that Jimenez, while a good pitcher, is prone to fits of wildness and he did little to dispel that fact in spring training. Couple that with all the bad press he's endured over the past week or so and his likely impending suspension and you may very well have a formula for one of his poorer starts of the season.
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