Ubaldo Jimenez is switching leagues and the Rockies are retooling their rotation of the future. Who should you put on your fantasy radar and is Ubaldo ready to wreak havoc on the American League?
The deal: Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians for Alex White, Joe Gardner, Matt McBride and, apparently, Drew Pomeranz
Thursday night, I read tweets from beat writers saying that the Ubaldo sweepstakes was down to Boston, New York or nothing at all. Jimenez is now a Cleveland Indian. #Rumorsareonlyrumors
Was Ubaldo's drop in velocity too much of a red flag for Colorado? Perhaps and, in general, a drop in velocity is concerning. It has certainly affected Ubaldo's numbers this season, though he has still posted very similar strikeout and walk rates compared to what he did last season. Another concern is the regressing ground-ball rate, once consistently over 52 percent, but now settling around 48 percent. That's still a good ground-ball rate, but not elite.
Moving to the American League, on the surface, shouldn't help Ubaldo's numbers. He now faces designated hitters rather than pitchers and better offensive clubs than the Padres and Giants. However, I can't help but wonder if he may be effective his first time around against American League hitters who haven't seen his stuff yet. His herky-jerky motion may take some getting used to and he hides the ball fairly well. Jimenez had a 3.32 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 19 innings during interleague play this season.
I'd try and buy low on Ubaldo, if you can, based on his good K/BB rate and chance that AL hitters will have trouble adjusting to his repertoire.
The package heading to Colorado is based around the reported player to be named later, Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz was the Indians' first round pick in 2010 (fifth overall) and cannot be traded until one year after his signing, which was August 15th of last year. His strikeout upside has certainly shown in his first professional action (112 strikeouts in 91 career innings). At 22 years of age, Pomeranz has a chance to move quickly; he has already been promoted to double-A and has made three starts there so far. He'll have to make a significant improvement in control/command before fantasy owners can jump on board the bandwagon, but the strikeouts look to be plentiful.
Alex White, also 22, has seen time in the majors this season as a member of the Indians. In three starts before landing on the 60-day DL with a finger injury, White posted a 3.60 ERA, but a poor 1.4 K/BB rate. The key to White's eventual fantasy impact will be whether or not he can continue to keep the ball on the ground at a high rate. His minor league track record suggests that he will. He won't have the most strikeouts, so keeping the ball grounded and in the yard will be important. It will also mean that he will have to depend on his defense quite a bit. He's currently set to start a rehab assignment and should be able to join the Rockies sometime in August.
23-year-old Joe Gardner doesn't have the best numbers you've ever seen. His strikeout rate has really regressed in his first action at an advanced level. That, combined with already inconsistent command/control, makes his projection a bit muddled. However, he is said to have one of the best sinking fastballs in the minors, which gives him at least some upside to have spurts of value at the big league level based around a high-end ground-ball rate.