CLEVELAND -- No one is ready to declare that Ubaldo Jimenez is entirely over the command issues that have plagued him in the past, but the Indians feel the pitcher is finally beginning to resemble the type of arm they felt they acquired in a trade last summer.
"He's pitching like a No. 2 or No. 1 guy right now," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
On Monday night, Jimenez's latest effort was overshadowed by the gem turned in by Angels right-hander Jered Weaver in Cleveland's 2-0 defeat. Even so, it was another step in the right direction for Jimenez, who has been strong for the Tribe over his past six outings.
Over his last six starts, Jimenez has gone 2-3, but he has fashioned a solid 2.93 ERA for the Indians over 40 innings. That marks the most innings over a six-start stretch for the righty since he went 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA from June 24-July 19 last season with the Rockies, who dealt him to the Indians in a five-player swap on July 31.
In the latest stretch, Jimenez has amassed 36 strikeouts against 15 walks, with 33 hits allowed over his 40 innings. That is a drastic upgrade over his first 10 outings of the year, during which he went 5-4 with a 5.79 ERA, 42 walks issued, 33 strikeouts and 58 hits surrendered.
Toward the end of that 10-start span, Jimenez began working with pitching coach Scott Radinsky on some mechanical changes within his delivery. The Indians said the pitcher likely would need time for the adjustments to stick, and so far, that prediction appears to have come true.
"Radinsky deserves a lot of credit for working with him," Acta said. "And Ubaldo deserves the credit for doing it. It has worked the way that they had planned it. It was going to take a few starts for the repetition to sink in, and it has happened. He has been consistent in the zone. He has kept up his velocity and he has pitched well ever since.
"I'm not saying he's not going to have a rough outing here and there, but I like the way he's throwing."
And Jimenez has reached a point where his mechanics are not his focus.
"Definitely," Jimenez said. "The first two months of the season, it was really hard because I had to pitch, and at the same time, be thinking about mechanics. Right now, everything is just getting better and better, and I just have to focus on getting hitters out."