Jun 30, 2010, 11:42 AM EDT
The answer is no, of course, but “Ubaldo Jimenez probably won’t win 30 games, but let’s talk about him anyway” really isn’t much of a headline as far as headlines go.
Jimenez notched his 14th victory Monday in his team’s 76th game, which seemed to me like a pretty amazing feat but actually isn’t all that rare. According to the indispensable and highly addicting Play Index on Baseball-Reference.com, Jimenez became the 45th player in baseball history with at least 14 wins in his team’s first 76 games.
The most recent pitchers to do so were Pedro Martinez in 1999, John Smoltz in 1996, Bret Saberhagen in 1987, Roger Clemens in 1986, Joaquin Andujar in 1985, and Steve Carlton in 1980. None of those guys won 30 games, because the last pitcher to win 30 games was Denny McClain in 1968.
However, if Jimenez can win again in his next start Saturday night that would give him 15 wins in 81 team games, which would further thin the field historically and put him on pace for exactly 30 wins. He’ll be facing Barry Zito and the Giants, and Jimenez hasn’t pitched well in back-to-back outings, but if he can pick up the victory he’ll become just the 34th pitcher with at least 15 wins through 81 team games.
Pedro in 1999 and Andujar in 1985 are the only pitchers to do so since 1980, and they finished with 23 and 21 wins, respectively. All of which shows the incredible difficultly of winning 30 games while pitching in a five-man rotation. As amazing as Jimenez has been, he’d have to duplicate his first-half performance and get the same kind of lineup and bullpen support to rarely take a loss or even a no-decision.
Twenty-five wins is much more feasible, and Bob Welch in 1990 is the last pitcher to do that.
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