Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Tribe wants Ubaldo to focus on the here and now

The Cleveland Indians, desperate for any kind of starting pitching, are doing what they can to try and boost Ubaldo Jimenez’s confidence as another disappointing season winds its way down.

Rather than focus on the big picture – one that reveals Jimenez as a 1-9 pitcher with an ERA of 7.13 since the All-Star break – the team is working on a more micro level, trying to get the right-hander to focus on the fact that he has struck out an average of 9.31 batters per nine innings since Aug. 9. He has also improved his strikeout-to-walk rate, which is 3.08 since Aug. 9, quite an improvement over the 1.29 mark he had prior to that date.

“Since mid-August, he has pitched pretty well for us,” manager Manny Acta told the team’s website. “His numbers stack up with the best pitchers in the American League when it comes to strikeouts per nine innings and walks and all that. Unfortunately, his batting average on balls in play hasn’t helped him out. We have been able to show it to him with stats on paper  o he doesn’t just think about the whole year. We just try to take the positive out of it.”

Yeah, when you’ve posted 16 losses like Jimenez has this year – the first Tribe pitcher to lose 16 games since Greg Swindell in 1991 – it’s probably best to get him to focus on a smaller sample size. (And whatever you do, don’t point out that he has as many wild pitches as losses, which leads the American League).

The bigger problem is why the Tribe needs to do this – they really have no other choice. The team holds an option on Jimenez for next season and it seems all but certain they will bring him back simply because they don’t have anyone else to take his place.

This is a team loaded with third and fourth starters (and we’re probably being generous), from Justin Masterson, to Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister and Jeanmar Gomez. The Tribe reportedly has “high hopes” for Carlos Carrasco, who has spent the year recovering from Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow.

“We’ll still have to be careful with him next year and still manage things appropriately,” general manager Chris Antonetti told the team’s website. “But it would’ve been great to have him this year and we’re certainly looking forward to having him back next year.”

Does that sound like the kind of rotation that will have fans dreaming of the post-season in 2013?

Making matters worse is there’s no foreseeable way for the Indians to get out of this situation. They have no one in the minors to call on to help the rotation and no money to sign anyone, either.

No, all Tribe fans have to look forward too is another season of hearing how the team is fixing some aspect of Jimenez’s mechanics, only to see the same results on game day that we’ve seen since Jimenez arrived from Colorado at the trading deadline in 2011.

Indian fever, baby.

(Photo by The Associated Press)

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