Ubaldo Jimenez made headlines again yesterday, as he now heads into the All-Star break with an astonishing 15-1 record. What was not publicized, however, is that the Colorado Rockies, for the first time all season, moved Jimenez up a spot in their starting rotation. Nine times this season, the Rockies have had the opportunity to skip a spot in their rotation in order to let Jimenez start on normal rest, and only yesterday did they take advantage of that opportunity. And with good reason–an extra day of rest can never hurt.
This brings us to yesterday’s ballgame. Why did the Rockies uncharacteristically move Jimenez up a day, rather than give him the additional time off like they had done so many other times this season? The answer–and admittedly, this is pure speculation on my part–is that Jim Tracy and company wanted to give Ubaldo four days of rest in anticipation of Tuesday’s All-Star Game. Though the NL’s starting pitcher has yet to be announced, it is a foregone conclusion that Jimenez will take the mound during the bottom of the first on Tuesday.
So what’s the big deal? Jimenez started on normal rest (but a day earlier than usual), dominated the Cardinals, and led his team to yet another victory. In the process, he is now on track to start the All-Star Game with the normal four days between outings. So what’s the problem? Well, when looking at this from the perspective of a San Diego Padres fan, I can’t help but smile. I for one was dreading yet another Ubaldo Jimenez – Kevin Correia showdown. The previous two this season, as we know, did not end favorably. Now, the end result is that San Diego gets to dodge Ublado entirely.
Thus, what we have here, in my estimation, is an occurrence where the Rockies’ Manager let an impending exhibition game affect his on-field decision-making. Was it a harmless decision? Only time will tell. The Rockies, after all, were victorious yesterday. Nevertheless, with Colorado sitting only three games out of first place, you would think that they would make a concerted effort to let their staff ace square off against the division leaders in a three game series. Especially when giving Ubaldo additional days of rest has been the norm throughout the season.
*One side-note: I realize that Jorge De La Rosa is coming off the DL today–something that undoubtedly influenced Tracy’s decision to move Jimenez up a spot for the first time all season. However, De La Rosa’s final rehab appearance was on Saturday, July 3rd. He will be starting tonight with an extra day of rest. That, of course, is not a bad thing, especially for someone who has spent several months on the DL. Nevertheless, I strongly suspect that the All-Star Game played a role in the Rockies’ rotation alignment this week. And as a Padres fan, I’m glad.