Tag Archive | "Ubaldo Jimenez"

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“Rounding the Bases” in Orioles’ 11-7 win over Padres

Posted on 29 June 2016 by Luke Jones

Who stood out in the Orioles’ 11-7 win over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night?

In the spirit of hockey’s “three stars” system with the addition of home plate for honorable mentions and other notes, we go around the bases after the 76th game of the 2016 season.

1st Hyun Soo Kim hit his second major league homer and turned in the first multi-RBI game of his career to help blow the game open in the middle innings. The lefty batter’s two-run shot came in the fifth when he ambushed a first-pitch fastball from Padres starter Erik Johnson to make it a 4-1 lead. His RBI double in the top of the sixth concluded an eight-pitch battle with reliever Carlos Villanueva as he flicked an outside pitch down the left-field line. Kim added two walks for good measure on his career night, elevating his on-base percentage to .431.

2nd Chris Davis put the Orioles ahead for good in the fourth with a sacrifice fly, but it was his contributions in the seven-run sixth that turned this game into a laugher for Baltimore. The first baseman led off the big inning with his 19th long ball of the season to center and later hit a double to right-center that would have scored a run had the ball not gotten stuck in the base of the wall. Davis added his third hit of the evening with a single to center in the eighth.

3rd Jonathan Schoop continued to swing a hot bat as he collected three hits, which included a two-run double in the sixth as well as another two-base hit in the fourth. The young second baseman scored twice and is now hitting .298 on the season after a red-hot June. He added a leaping catch on a line drive off the bat of Melvin Upton in the bottom of the ninth inning.

HomeManny Machado had three hits and drove in two runs with a broken-bat single up the middle in the sixth. The third baseman finished the night sporting a .330 batting average for the season. … Adam Jones led off a game with a home run for the first time in his career as he sent one out to right-center, his third career blast at Petco Park in his native San Diego. … The Orioles’ three homers leave them one shy of the major league record for long balls in the month of June set by Oakland (55) in 1996. The major league mark for team homers in any month is 58. … Ubaldo Jimenez allowed one earned run and three hits over five solid innings to record the win despite issuing four walks. He was lifted for a pinch hitter in the midst of the Orioles’ big sixth inning. … Baltimore has now recorded its third winning streak of at least six games this season and improved to a season-high 16 games above .500. The Orioles’ 46-30 mark is their best after 76 games since the 1997 season when they started 50-26. … Yovani Gallardo goes to the hill on Wednesday afternoon while left-hander Christian Friedrich will start for the Padres.

 

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Orioles hoping to welcome back injured players during road trip

Posted on 26 June 2016 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 8:45 p.m.)

BALTIMORE — Embarking on their second trip to the West Coast of the season, the Orioles hope to welcome back a few players from the disabled list in the coming days.

Standout reliever Darren O’Day completed his first full bullpen session on Saturday as he continues to recover from a right hamstring injury that sent him on the DL on June 3. Manager Buck Showalter said O’Day will complete another bullpen session and will pitch two simulated games, which could put him in line to be activated before the conclusion of the nine-game trip.

“He only had one little thing yesterday that he [felt],” Showalter said. “Other than that, it went really well. He’s moving around running, and we have it mapped out if everything went on scheduled when he would be activated. But there are three or four obstacles to cross. If everything went perfectly, he could be activated on this trip.”

O’Day’s absence has put more pressure on the back end of the bullpen as the Orioles have counted more heavily on right-hander Brad Brach in high-leverage situations. Brach and All-Star closer Zach Britton entered Sunday having pitched in three of the last four days.

Baltimore expects to welcome back another member of its bullpen early in the trip as right-hander Vance Worley pitched 1 2/3 innings at Double-A Bowie on Saturday night. The long reliever allowed five hits and one earned run, but his manager didn’t seem too concerned with the results.

“It went well. Physically, he feels good,” Showalter said Sunday morning. “He’s in the locker room. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet.”

Worley hasn’t pitched since June 12 while dealing with a groin strain and is eligible to be activated on Tuesday, but he will instead have one more rehab appearance at Single-A Frederick on that day.

On Monday at Frederick, backup catcher Caleb Joseph is scheduled to catch in a game for the first time since suffering a testicular injury that required surgery on May 30. Jospeh has already been serving as a designated hitter on a rehab assignment and has been catching bullpen sessions for a while now, meaning he could rejoin the club after catching Worley on Tuesday.

Other changes could be coming to the roster with two relievers — Ashur Tolliver and Mychal Givens — potentially going on paternity leave in the near future. Showalter said Tolliver’s wife is due on July 7 and Givens’ wife is due on July 11, but Tolliver told his manager that the baby could come “any day now.”

(Update: Baltimore optioned Tolliver to Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday evening.)

The Orioles would be able replace either pitcher using the paternity leave list, but that can always be a tricky proposition when playing so far from home.

NOTES: Chris Davis was serving as the DH on Sunday as Showalter wanted to give him two straight days off from playing in the field. Mark Trumbo was making his second start of the season at first base. … Ubaldo Jimenez is listed as the starter for Tuesday’s game against the Padres. The struggling right-hander allowed two earned runs in six innings against the Padres to earn the victory last Wednesday. … Baltimore entered Sunday leading the majors with 43 home games played and owning the second-best home record (30-13) in baseball. Of course, the Orioles will play 16 of their next 19 games on the road beginning Tuesday.

 

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“Rounding the Bases” in Orioles’ 7-2 win over Padres

Posted on 23 June 2016 by Luke Jones

Who stood out in the Orioles’ 7-2 win over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night?

In the spirit of hockey’s “three stars” system with the addition of home plate for honorable mentions and other notes, we go around the bases after the 71st game of the 2016 season.

1stMark Trumbo entered the night with just 10 hits in his last 55 at-bats and hadn’t homered in his last 59 plate appearances dating back to June 7, but that changed with his leadoff homer to right-center to tie the game in the bottom of the second. The right fielder followed that with a leadoff double that led to another run in the fourth and a single in the bottom of the seventh. Trumbo is now tied with Todd Frazier and Nolan Arenado for the most homers in the major leagues with 21. He’s now one home run shy of his total from last season in 241 fewer plate appearances in 2016.

2ndUbaldo Jimenez wasn’t great in walking four batters in addition to surrendering four hits, but manager Buck Showalter summarized it nicely by saying he would have signed up for the right-hander allowing two runs in six innings at the start of the night. His fastball command was better than we’ve seen in several weeks as he registered his first quality start since May 7, and he finished on a high note with four straight strikeouts to conclude the outing. However, his solid night against a last-place club probably shouldn’t guarantee Jimenez anything beyond the temporary quieting of calls for him to be designated for assignment. Showalter was noncommittal about whether he’d start again on Tuesday.

3rdJonathan Schoop started a game hitting out of the No. 3 spot in the order for the first time in his major league career and went 2-for-3 with an RBI double, a walk, and a run scored to raise his average to .285 with an .808 on-base plus slugging percentage. The 24-year-old second baseman is now hitting .320 with six walks, seven doubles, four homers, 16 runs, and 14 RBIs in the month of June.

HomeMatt Wieters went 1-for-3 with an RBI single and a sacrifice fly to give him 34 RBIs on the season. … Ryan Flaherty hit his third homer of the year and is now hitting .288 with seven walks, four doubles, three homers, and 12 RBIs in his last 19 games. … In addition to collecting two hits, Adam Jones impressively scored from first base on Schoop’s double to shallow left-center in the third, taking advantage of some lethargic San Diego defense. … Hyun Soo Kim collected two hits and drove in a run while raising his average to a stout .339. … Pitching for the first time since Sunday, Brad Brach struck out two while tossing two perfect innings in relief. … The Orioles won their 1,000 all-time game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. … On Friday, Baltimore will send Yovani Gallardo to the hill to open a four-game series with Tampa Bay, who will start lefty Matt Moore.

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Orioles starting Jimenez sends bad all-around message

Posted on 22 June 2016 by Luke Jones

It doesn’t matter how Ubaldo Jimenez performs on Wednesday night.

Whether the good version makes a cameo for the first time since early May or he again pitches like the worst starter in baseball, the Orioles are sending a bad message all the way around by giving him the ball against the San Diego Padres after moving him to the bullpen just a week ago.

Through all the noise about the difficult schedule this week, the Orioles have known since sending Mike Wright down to Triple-A Norfolk on Friday that they would need a starter for Wednesday’s game. They even opened up space Tuesday by outrighting infielder Paul Janish to Norfolk, meaning they had the flexibility to promote any pitcher in the organization not currently on the 40-man roster.

Instead, the Orioles decided to roll with a pitcher whose 7.34 ERA ranks last in the majors among those registering at least 60 innings.

It speaks volumes about the state of the organization’s starting pitching depth. Not that anyone is convinced that Odrisamer Despaigne or Joe Gunkel or Nick Additon or any other minor-league starter with a pulse would provide substantial improvement, but why field teams at Norfolk or Double-A Bowie if you’re just going to maintain the status quo with a starting rotation ranking 13th in the AL in ERA?

What message does it send to the rest of your first-place club that this is the best you can do? A couple weeks ago, the Orioles replaced Mike Wright with, well, Mike Wright. Then, they removed Jimenez for the returning Yovani Gallardo. Now, they’ve demoted Wright again in favor of Jimenez.

Talk about rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

The Orioles have now essentially told both Jimenez and Wright, “You’re not good enough, but here’s the ball again because we have no one else worthy of receiving a shot.” Having no competition for starting pitchers performing so far below expectations is embarrassing for a contending team.

A first-place club with a powerful offense, a great bullpen, and a strong infield defense deserves better. It at least deserves an attempt to be better, but that’s an issue that dates back to the offseason when improving the starting pitching was initially deemed a priority by executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and the Orioles proceeded to lose their best starter from 2015 — Wei-Yin Chen — and replace him with Gallardo, a pitcher with shoulder concerns that have already landed him on the disabled list.

To make matters worse, the Orioles thought they had enough rotation depth this spring to jettison a struggling Miguel Gonzalez to save $4 million instead of sending him to the minors to work on his issues. His 4.29 ERA is far from stellar, but his velocity is back in line with where it was the last four years and he’d be a substantial upgrade over Wright or Jimenez right now.

Of course, Wednesday’s start doesn’t mean Jimenez will remain in the rotation. Perhaps this truly is an attempt at a Hail Mary with the 32-year-old after seeing how his demotion has negatively impacted the bullpen over the last week. His lone relief appearance last Friday brought an inability to even keep the Orioles within four runs of Toronto after Wright was lifted in the fourth inning.

It’s difficult to hide a pitcher in the bullpen when he can’t even contribute in that kind of a low-leverage situation.

Despite still being owed roughly $21 million through next season, maybe this represents Jimenez’s last chance with the Orioles.

At some point, you have to recognize a sunk cost and move on, right?

Otherwise, we’re reminded that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

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Orioles make latest change to sinking rotation

Posted on 18 June 2016 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles starter Mike Wright had few answers after his latest outing went horribly wrong in a 13-3 loss to Toronto on Friday night.

After allowing a career-high eight earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings, Wright saw his season ERA climb to an unseemly 6.12. To little surprise, the 26-year-old was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game, signaling Baltimore’s second rotation change this week with disappointing veteran Ubaldo Jimenez already being sent to the bullpen.

In his last two starts covering 8 2/3 innings — both against the Blue Jays — Wright allowed 12 earned runs.

“I threw some good pitches, I threw some bad pitches. They hit them both,” said Wright shortly before his demotion was announced. “I’m working harder than ever. When you’re working harder than ever and you get those results, it’s tough.”

Despite being optioned to Norfolk following his June 1 start against Boston that lasted only 2 2/3 innings, Wright was recalled on June 3 when reliever Darren O’Day was placed on the 15-day disabled list. The young pitcher initially took advantage of the “do-over” by tossing seven strong innings against a depleted Kansas City lineup, but his last two starts only reaffirmed the struggles with his command and with the quality of his secondary pitches.

On Saturday, the Orioles will activate veteran starter Yovani Gallardo from the DL, a move they hope will serve as a shot in the arm for a starting rotation sporting a 4.93 ERA through the first 67 games of the 2016 season. However, Gallardo is only taking Jimenez’s spot in the rotation, making it unclear who will replace Wright when his turn next comes around on Wednesday.

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Orioles finally send struggling Jimenez to bullpen

Posted on 15 June 2016 by Luke Jones

Sporting the worst ERA among qualified pitchers in the major leagues, Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez is finally moving to the bullpen.

Manager Buck Showalter announced the change ahead of Tuesday’s series-opening win in Boston as veteran Yovani Gallardo will be activated from the disabled list on Saturday to take Jimenez’s place in the starting rotation. After giving up five runs and retiring only one batter in Sunday’s loss to Toronto, Jimenez will now pitch in relief as he tries to work out his issues that have led to a 6.89 ERA and 1.98 WHIP in 13 starts covering 62 2/3 innings.

Over his last 28 starts dating back to last July 17, the 32-year-old has posted a 6.17 ERA in 147 1/3 innings. Still owing Jimenez just over $21 million through next season, the Orioles hope the right-hander can work out his issues in the bullpen to eventually return to a starting rotation that entered Tuesday ranked 12th in the American League in ERA.

This marks the second time in his three seasons with Baltimore that Jimenez has been moved to the bullpen because of ineffectiveness.

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Hardy begins rehab assignment as Gallardo wraps his

Posted on 14 June 2016 by Luke Jones

As a key member of the Orioles concluded a minor-league rehab assignment, another is about to begin his.

With starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo performing well in his third and final rehab start on Monday, shortstop J.J. Hardy will begin playing for Double-A Bowie on Tuesday as he moves closer to a return from a fractured left foot suffered on May 1. Gallardo could be activated from the 15-day disabled list to make Saturday’s start against the Toronto Blue Jays while it remains unclear how long Hardy’s assignment will last.

Pitching for Triple-A Norfolk against Charlotte on Monday, Gallardo turned in a strong five-inning performance in which he allowed just one run on one hit while striking out five and issuing two walks. The lone run he allowed came on a leadoff homer before he settled in to throw 90 pitches.

Showing better velocity than he did early in the season when he posted a 7.00 ERA in four starts before going on the DL with right shoulder tendinitis, Gallardo will be asked to help stabilize a starting rotation that’s struggled mightily in recent weeks. It remains unclear whose rotation spot Gallardo will take, but veteran Ubaldo Jimenez owns a grotesque 6.89 ERA and both Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson have minor-league options and have also struggled.

Meanwhile, the Orioles are eager to welcome back Hardy to help solidify the left side of their infield. Gold Glove third baseman Manny Machado has played very well shifting to shortstop, but Baltimore has had problems at the hot corner with Ryan Flaherty and Paul Janish offering substandard offense and Pedro Alvarez providing subpar defense when asked to play there.

Ideally, the Orioles would like to have Hardy return before Machado begins serving his suspension stemming from last week’s brawl with Yordano Ventura and the Kansas City Royals. Machado’s four-game suspension is pending an appeal.

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Jimenez leaves Orioles no choice but to make change

Posted on 12 June 2016 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have no other choice after Ubaldo Jimenez allowed five runs and retired just one batter before being removed from Sunday’s game in Toronto.

It’s time to make a change.

Whether that means a trip to the bullpen or the Orioles making the bold and difficult decision to designate him for assignment, Jimenez shouldn’t remain in the starting rotation. How hard a worker the 32-year-old might be or even how much money he’s still owed through next season can’t justify him making his next start for a team entering a much-needed off-day still tied for first place in the AL East and 10 games over .500 in mid-June.

Inconsistency is one thing — it’s defined his career, after all — but not giving your club a chance while repeatedly compromising the bullpen is another. The good — or even decent — version of Jimenez has been missing for well over a month now with his best performance over that time being an outing in which he allowed nine hits and three walks in five innings against an undermanned Kansas City lineup last week.

In his last seven starts, Jimenez has pitched to a 10.00 ERA in 27 innings of work. Over that time, he’s twice failed to complete two innings, hasn’t once finished six innings, and has surrendered five or more runs in all but one of those outings.

His season ERA now sits at 6.89 and his WHIP — walks and hits per inning pitched — is an appalling 1.98. As Ravens coach John Harbaugh would say, that’s below the line.

Asked multiple times over the last few weeks about Jimenez’s spot in the rotation, manager Buck Showalter has often replied, “As opposed to whom?” It’s his subtle and mostly-innocuous way of challenging a reporter asking a critical question but also a commentary on the organization’s lack of viable starting pitching depth.

It’s no longer a fitting retort, however. No matter how limited the alternatives might be, you cannot maintain the status quo if you’re trying to be fair to the rest of the players on a contending club, especially after the Orioles decided to jettison the popular Miguel Gonzalez — who is pitching pretty well again in Chicago, mind you — after a difficult second half to 2015 and a poor spring.

It’s unfortunate because Jimenez is a well-liked teammate and desperately wants to do well, but the answer to Showalter’s rhetorical question has become “anybody else” at this point. That’s not to say that Yovani Gallardo or Vance Worley or T.J. McFarland or Odrisamer Despaigne or anyone Dan Duquette might find off the scrapheap will provide the solution the Orioles seek, but all options need to be on the table when you’re talking about replacing a starter with an ERA a smidgen under 7.00.

With Gallardo scheduled to make a final rehab start for Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, he’s poised to return to the rotation this weekend. The Orioles can only pray that he will have more to offer than he did in April when he had a 7.00 ERA in four starts before going to the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis.

We know Jimenez isn’t the only starter struggling as Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson both pitched poorly in Toronto, but that shouldn’t be an argument to justify continuing to go down this path with the veteran right-hander.

One problem at a time.

The frustrating thing is that the Orioles don’t need terrific starting pitching to contend when they have such a powerful offense, a terrific bullpen, and strong infield defense. Mediocrity from its rotation would probably be enough, but Jimenez hasn’t been able to provide even that much despite being in the third season of a four-year, $50 million contract.

Even if you believe Jimenez can get himself straightened out with some side sessions and low-leverage appearances out of the bullpen before giving him another shot in the rotation in a few weeks, there’s no competitive reason to continue sending him to the mound every fifth day for a contending club right now. He needs a break mentally and emotionally as much as he does physically to try to figure out how to fix this — if he can.

The Orioles have been more than patient, but Showalter’s first-inning hook on Sunday said it all.

It’s time to throw in the towel.

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Orioles send down struggling Wright, add Duensing to bullpen

Posted on 02 June 2016 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Sorting through their current mess of a pitching staff, the Orioles optioned right-hander Mike Wright to Triple-A Norfolk and selected the contract of lefty reliever Brian Duensing on Thursday.

After making the club out of spring training as the No. 4 starter, Wright had failed to complete six innings in four of his last five outings and allowed a career-high four home runs in just 2 2/3 innings against Boston on Wednesday. His season ERA had risen to a robust 5.88 in 49 innings that included nine starts.

Manager Buck Showalter said the 26-year-old will start for the Tides on Monday and emphasized that he would remain a starter when asked if Wright could be moved to a bullpen role as many have suggested.

“I know he spent the day looking at the tape of all of his starts in the big leagues,” Showalter said. “He’s in the process of becoming a good pitcher for us up here. Mike’s going to be a good starter for the Baltimore Orioles. That’s what I feel. Today is part of the process. A lot of guys come up and they get a little better each time. We’re hoping the next time Mike comes up that we won’t need this move to be made.

“He’ll contribute to our club this year as a starter. I really believe that.”

Despite possessing a good fastball, Wright hasn’t been able to consistently command his off-speed pitches and has struggled against lefties, who are batting .369 with four homers and a 1.028 on-base plus slugging percentage against him this year. He has held right-handed bats to a .234 average.

It remains unclear who would immediately take Wright’s spot in the rotation with T.J. McFarland and Vance Worley being the two logical candidates currently on the active roster.

The roster move came on the same day that Yovani Gallardo was making his first minor-league rehab start and the struggling Ubaldo Jimenez was taking the hill against the powerful Red Sox lineup. At Single-A Frederick, Gallardo pitched three innings, allowing three runs and seven hits while walking two and striking out four.

Showalter reiterated on Thursday that the plan was for Gallardo to make at least two rehab starts, meaning he wouldn’t be ready to be activated to take Wright’s next turn in the rotation on Monday.

The 33-year-old Duensing adds an experienced left-handed reliever to a club that parted ways with Brian Matusz last month. Beginning the year in Kansas City’s organization, Duensing had opted out of his minor-league deal to join the Orioles and had thrown three scoreless innings for the Tides.

He had spent his entire career with the Minnesota Twins prior to this year, serving exclusively as a reliever since 2013. In 48 2/3 innings for the Twins last season, Duensing pitched to a 4.25 ERA with 4.4 strikeouts and 3.9 walks per nine innings.

He holds a 4.13 career ERA in seven major league seasons.

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Jimenez’s dramatic struggles have Orioles in unenviable position

Posted on 29 May 2016 by Luke Jones

The Orioles weren’t expecting Ubaldo Jimenez to be their ace in 2016.

Manager Buck Showalter probably would have taken a repeat of last season in which he posted an unspectacular but acceptable 4.11 ERA, even if it did include a 5.63 mark in the second half after a sparkling 2.81 ERA before the All-Star break. With so many questions about their starting rotation entering the season, the Orioles needed Jimenez to be more 2015 than the 2014 version of himself.

So far, they haven’t even gotten the latter model as another poor performance Saturday elevated his ERA to 6.36, third worst among qualified pitchers in the majors entering Sunday. He’s averaged 5.2 walks per nine innings and opponents have a .375 batting average on balls in play against him, numbers suggesting he’s been both bad and unlucky this season.

And it’s only getting worse as the 32-year-old has posted a 10.26 ERA over his last four starts with the Orioles losing the last three in blowout fashion. Jimenez has walked 14 in 16 2/3 innings over that time, perhaps the clearest barometer of his inability to give his club much of a chance to win these days.

Making matters worse, Jimenez allowed four stolen bases in Saturday’s game and opponents have stolen 11 bases against him already this season, another of Showalter’s pet peeves.

Something has to give — and soon.

Showalter said before Sunday’s finale in Cleveland that Jimenez is listed as the “projected” starter for the series finale against Boston this week. The thought of the struggling right-hander facing the best lineup in baseball on Thursday almost appears cruel at this point, but the Orioles’ alternatives are limited.

Unlike two years ago when Jimenez lost his spot in the starting rotation, there isn’t a Kevin Gausman waiting to take his place. It’s no coincidence that Yovani Gallardo will make his first minor-league rehab start on the same day Jimenez is set to make his next start, but the former may need another start or two after that in his recovery from right shoulder tendinitis.

Even if you decide that Gallardo — or Vance Worley or T.J. McFarland or anyone else — takes his rotation spot, what do you do with the struggling veteran?

Despite many fans continuing to call for it, the Orioles aren’t releasing a pitcher owed the remainder of his $13 million salary this year and another $13.5 million in 2017. Unless you have two or three legitimate pitching prospects waiting at Triple A to take the next step, you don’t dump a pitcher who showed he was able to pitch at a high level for a significant portion of last season when he’s owed so much money — even if it might amount to little more than a way-too-expensive lottery ticket at this point.

Do you just send Jimenez to the bullpen? The problem with that is you can only count on him for mop-up duty and one of the last things you want in a long reliever is to walk hitters when you’re just trying to eat low-leverage innings. At the very least, it would give him opportunities for side sessions to try to fix his mechanics, something not easy to do when you have just four days between starts.

Will the Orioles find a physical issue — authentic or not — that would allow them to put him on the disabled list? Two years ago, an ankle injury met with plenty of outside skepticism allowed Jimenez to rehab and pitch in two minor-league games before he was activated roughly a month later.

Even if Jimenez can reverse his latest struggles, how much can you trust him to pitch for a contender?

Of course, these alternatives aren’t preferable to Jimenez doing the job the Orioles are paying him handsomely to do. Nearly 2 1/2 years into their marriage, the right-hander has turned in one excellent half of pitching with occasional good starts sprinkled in the rest of the time.

His woes aren’t from a lack of effort, but the well-liked Jimenez just isn’t getting the job done.

The Orioles find themselves back in the same position they experienced two year ago, in contention and needing to replace him.

It appears time for a change.

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