Playoffs not likely to faze Jimenez
Rockies right-hander has faced top competition lately
DENVER -- No one ever said that facing the big guns was going to be easy for Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.
Five of Jimenez's last seven starts have been against teams that were contending for the playoffs at the time or, in one case, a top-notch opposing starter. Jimenez has pitched well more often than not, but the results have still been mixed.
Jimenez is 2-3 in those five contests with a 4.26 ERA. But Jimenez has given up more than three runs in just one of them and lasted at least seven innings in all but one.
Now Jimenez faces the Dodgers in the opener of a three-game series to end the regular season. The Rockies punched their playoff ticket with Thursday's 9-2 victory over the Brewers. But they can overtake the Dodgers and win the National League West title by sweeping this weekend's series.
It's a good test for Jimenez. The game is important, but not crucial. Last time the Rockies were in the playoffs, they were a Wild Card. All they did was sweep the NL Division and Championship Series. No matter the result, Jimenez will loom big for the Rockies in the playoffs. It's possible that manager Jim Tracy will give him the start in the team's first playoff game.
Here is a look at how Jimenez has done in his big recent starts:
Aug. 23 vs. Giants: Jimenez stared down the Giants and Cy Young candidate Tim Lincecum, and pitched the Rockies to a 4-2 victory. Jimenez struck out nine in eight innings.
Aug. 28 at Giants: Once again, it was Jimenez vs. Lincecum. Jimenez held the Giants to two runs in seven innings. But he was in a no-win situation. Lincecum went eight scoreless innings and the Giants won, 2-0.
Sept. 15 at Giants: This time, Jimenez turned in his worst start of the season. He was gone after 2 2/3 innings, during which he gave up seven runs (six earned). Interestingly, it could have turned out much better had Garrett Atkins not committed an error on a possible double-play grounder, which would have kept the first inning scoreless. The Giants won, 10-2.
Sept. 20 at D-backs: Jimenez was facing a star on a struggling team, right-hander Dan Haren. As is often the case, Jimenez struggled early, giving up an RBI single to Haren in the second. But Jimenez struck out Justin Upton with the bases loaded to end the inning, and he held the D-backs to one run in seven innings of a 5-1 victory.
Sept. 26 vs. Cardinals: Jimenez battled with Adam Wainwright. Jimenez put himself in trouble by giving up three first-inning runs, on two hits and two walks. Jimenez went seven innings and gave up four runs in a 6-3 loss.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.