MLB: Dodgers’ Joe Torre puts Jimenez in a class with Mario Soto
By Baxter Holmes
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — Of Joe Torre's 40-plus seasons in the major leagues, the Los Angeles Dodgers' manager thought of only one pitcher who reminds him of Ubaldo Jimenez, the Colorado Rockies' shut-down right-hander who the Dodgers face Sunday.
"I guess Soto with Cincinnati," Torre said, speaking of Mario Soto, the Reds' fireballer who could throw a high-90s fastball and a back-breaking changeup that baffled hitters from the late '70s to the late '80s.
Jimenez, who is 6-0 and leads the majors with a 0.87 earned-run average, gained national fame from his no-hitter April 17 against Atlanta. But Torre said the 26-year-old Dominican Republic native's talent was news only to fans that hadn't paid attention.
He has been clocked at 101 mph on the gun, but he's versatile beyond the fastball, using his changeup, splitter and slider as "out" pitches because they carry a lot of movement.
"If he's commanding it," Torre said, "you'll have to make up your mind when you go up to hit — 'Which one of these things am I going to look for?' It's really tough as a hitter, especially when you have just the 60 feet to deal with, is to try to handle all the stuff."
As Torre said, it's not necessarily Jimenez's speed that kills, even though his fastball averaged 96.1 mph last year, tops in all of baseball, according to Baseball Info Solutions. "You can catch up with a fastball even if it's 97 mph if it's straight, but he doesn't throw many balls straight."