May 09

Colorado didn’t trade for an ace … they got dealt one


AP
Ubaldo Jimenez and Clayton Kershaw face off at Dodger Stadium today.

Colorado’s starting pitcher today is an ace. He’s 6-0 with an 0.87 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 41 1/13 innings against 43 baserunners.

But the Rockies didn’t trade for Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez came up through the Colorado farm system. He showed promise in half a season at age 23, was solid at age 24, excellent at age 25 and now, except for complete games, is putting up Fernando Valenzuela-like numbers at age 26.

Here are the stats for Jimenez and Dodger starters Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley at last year’s All-Star break:

Pitcher Innings per start ERA BR/9 K/9
Jimenez 6.4 3.81 12.3 7.9
Kershaw 5.5 3.16 11.6 8.9
Billingsley 6.6 3.38 11.5 8.5

Even allowing for the fact that Jimenez pitches half his games at Coors Field, could anyone have reasonably concluded that 10 months later, he would have an ERA more than 4.00 lower than Kershaw and Billingsley? That Billingsley wouldn’t be every bit as good as Jimenez or better, or that Kershaw wouldn’t be right on their tails?

While I understand – really, I do – why it’s expected that the Dodgers should use their resources to acquire more talent than their division rivals, right now the main difference between the front of the Colorado and Los Angeles starting rotations has nothing to do with that. The difference is that the 22-year-old Kershaw is still getting on track and the 25-year-old Billingsley got sidetracked, while at age 26, Jimenez has moved onto the fast track.