Detroit Tigers: Predicting the 2018 bullpen
Joe Jimenez has been dubbed the closer of the future ever since he signed with the Detroit Tigers back in 2013.
The highly-touted flamethrower finally made his big league debut last season, and the results weren’t pretty.
Across 19 innings Jimenez surrendered a staggering 26 earned runs. He walked nine, struck out 17 and gave up 31 hits, including four home runs.
It is worth pointing out that he posted a stellar 1.44 ERA in 25 innings at Triple-A Toledo.
19 innings is obviously a very small sample size, and a lot of Jimenez’s ugly stats were because of that. His strand rate was a paltry 38.5%, where the league average is around 70%. Likewise opposing hitters hit .403 on balls in play, about 100 points higher than average.
Still, Jimenez will need to walk less hitters and induce more ground balls if he wants to ever inherit the closing role in Detroit.
Concerns about Jimenez’s weight cropped up last season and into the offseason, but those have been quelled.
"“He was at a point where we actually were concerned,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said of Jimenez’s conditioning. “We’d tell him ‘Hey listen, if you’re going to continue to progress and get better as a baseball player you’ve gotta make sure that you watch your weight.’ We put him on a program and he’s followed it to a T. He’s been in Lakeland. He chose to stay there and do strength and conditioning, nutrition, the whole thing.”"
Jimenez averaged a blistering 95.5 miles per hour on his fastball last season (per FanGraphs) and will continue to bring the heat. As long as he can control his fastball and his secondary pitches, he will start to find some success in the show.
He is a ways away from being the closer in Detroit, but at age 22 he still has plenty of time to develop into the ninth inning stopper that fans have been envisioning for years.