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Ubaldo Jimenez off to Cy Young-winning start at 8-1 with 0.99 ERA

May 21, 2010, 2:42 PM EDT

Ubaldo Jimenez left last night’s start after a season-low 92 pitches because of hamstring cramping, but not before holding the Astros’ lowly lineup to one hit over seven shutout innings. Jimenez is now 8-1 with a 0.99 ERA through nine starts, with his only loss coming on May 9 when he allowed just two hits over seven innings of one-run ball only to see Clayton Kershaw shut out the Rockies.
Plenty of players have amazing numbers six weeks into every season, but I was curious about how Jimenez’s blazing start stacks up against recent Cy Young winners. Here’s what the past 10 award winners did through their first nine starts:

YEAR     CYA WINNER          W     L      ERA
2009     Tim Lincecum        3     1     3.45
2009     Zack Greinke        7     1     0.82
2008     Tim Lincecum        5     1     1.92
2008     Cliff Lee           7     1     1.50
2007     Jake Peavy          5     1     1.64
2007     CC Sabathia         6     1     3.65
2006     Brandon Webb        6     0     2.78
2006     Johan Santana       4     4     3.23
2005     Chris Carpenter     6     2     4.07
2005     Bartolo Colon       5     3     2.67

Jimenez has more victories through nine starts than any of the past 10 winners and only Zack Greinke last season had a lower ERA. Greinke ended up with just 16 wins last season because the Royals’ lineup and bullpen repeatedly let him down in the second half, but he was 7-1 with a 0.82 ERA through nine starts and 8-1 with a 0.84 ERA through 10 starts. Jimenez would need to throw 11.2 shutout innings in his next start to get his ERA down to 0.84.
In general though, Jimenez in definitely off to a Cy Young-winning start, as the past 10 award winners have averaged 5.4 wins, 1.5 losses, and a 2.57 ERA through nine outings. Of course, when Livan Hernandez is right on Jimenez’s heels with a 1.62 ERA it’s probably way too early to start thinking about such things.

  1. Joe - May 21, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    It would be interesting to see this from a slightly different angle – namely, what is the average outcome for a pitcher who has started the season with nine starts at a sub-1.00 ERA. (Or 1.50, if there’s not enough of a sample there to bother with.) I have to believe that at some point it shifts definitively from “hot start” to “great season.”

  2. Banjo - May 21, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    One should not forget that Ubaldo pitches half the time at Coors Field. As every Rockie position player gets an unofficial asterisk by their name for the inflated home stats it would only be consistent to give Ubaldo an asterisks as well. Hard to imagine what his stats would be if he pitched in a pitchers park.

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  4. Ace - May 22, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    Banjo, are you really that ignorant!?! Ubaldo’s no hitter came at sea-level against Atlanta. Stop thinking Denver’s Mile High altitude is the reason for crazy statistics. The guy has 100 mph fastball that changes direction in mid-flight, and he can throw a 84 mph changeup on his next pitch. His last game, 1-hit, 92 pitch, outing occured in Houston. Get over the * because of Coors Field. They guy has a .99 ERA, awesome control, and great managing. I guess it must be the altitude?!?

  5. Ryne - May 22, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    I think Banjo is saying that if Ubaldo’s home games weren’t in Denver his numbers could be even better. So if hitters stats are downgraded for hitting there, pitchers stats should be upgraded.

  6. Humidifier - May 22, 2010 at 8:43 PM

    I thought everyone by now knew that in Denver, they keep a special humidifier stocked full of game-balls that compensates for the high altitude. I think they implemented this a couple years ago. Anyway, since then, the typically through-the-roof homer numbers have declined to almost normal (though the Rockies still pack their lineup with a lot of big bats).

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