The Detroit Tigers announced on Saturday morning that relief pitcher Joe Jimenez has been optioned to Toledo, leaving the total remaining at camp to 34. The move comes as a modest surprise for the once-highly-touted prospect, as he has regressed since his all-star campaign in 2018.
This Spring, Jimenez had thrown 5.1 innings across six appearances; giving up six hits, three runs, six strikeouts–good for a 5.06 ERA.
His savant page is also less than salacious–ranking in the second percentile in exit velocity and hard-hit percentage in 2020 and his xERA in the ninth percentile in baseball.
The relief picture is slowly becoming clearer, as it is implied Gregory Soto, Buck Farmer, Bryan Garcia, and Jose Cisnero had made the club. Non-roster invitee Derek Holland made the bullpen as well with Daniel Norris likely working out of some long role. It was announced Michael Fulmer will be pitching out of the pen to start. Tyler Alexander is likely the fourth lefty and sneaks his way in as well, depending on how they decide the bench–although I’d expect manager AJ Hinch to prefer to have an extra arm for a long season.
Jimenez has never quite lived up to the triple-digit talk-up he received from those who follow the minor leagues. He’s been mostly mid-90’s with his fastball throughout his career–sometimes even low-90’s. Such a shift made his slider easier to track and the feel for his changeup came and went.
Across his major league career, Jimenez has pitched to a 5.65 ERA while striking out 199 batters in 164 innings. It is likely the Detroit Tigers will need some relief arms at some point throughout the season, so I would not be surprised to see Jimenez back at some point. That said, there will be competition for those call-up spots in the form of folks like Alex Lange, Erasmo Ramirez, Beau Burrows, and Kyle Funkhouser.