Baltimore Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez continues clutch starts during playoff push

After a forgettable first half of the season, right-handed pitcher Ubaldo Jiminez has come up huge when the Baltimore Orioles need him most.

After posting a May ERA of 8.28 and a 7.23 ERA in June, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was pulled from the starting rotation to the delight of many fans.

Fast forward to the present where Ubaldo Jimenez finds himself back in the Orioles starting rotation, contributing when the Orioles need him most. Jimenez was given another opportunity when he was called upon to fill the void of Orioles ace Chris Tillman, who landed on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury in August.

Saturday, Jimenez pitched his fourth consecutive quality start in the second game of a crucial series in Detriot and also helped the Orioles snatch the season series against the Tiger which may end up determining playoff positioning. Since returning to the Orioles starting rotation, Jimenez is 2-1 with a 2.87 ERA. In those four games, Jimenez has tossed at least six innings including a complete game win on Labor Day against the Tampa Bay Rays. During that span, Jimenez has resolved his mechanical issues by allowing just six walks in 28.2 innings pitch with 17 strikeouts and has limited opposing batters to just a .160 batting average.

With Tillman earning his sixteenth win Sunday against the Detriot Tigers and back on the mound for the first time since August 20th due to right shoulder bursitis, Jimenez seems to have earned his way back into the Orioles starting rotation. If Jimenez stays in the Orioles rotation, newly acquired southpaw Wade Miley will most likely be the odd man out. In seven starts with the Orioles, Miley is 1-4 with a disastrous 7.15 ERA.

Jimenez pitched his way out of the starting rotation on many occasions this season. In fact, there was a stretch in July where Ubaldo went 20 days without earning an appearance after pitching 1 1/3 innings, allowing five earned runs against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on July 8 and failing to appear again until July 28. During that stretch, the Orioles seemed to discard Ubaldo deep into the Orioles bullpen. The Orioles ran out of options for the unpredictable Jimenez, who in 17 starts went 5-9 with a 7.38 ERA to conclude the first half of the season.

In the end, money might have rescued the veteran right-hander from being released from the Baltimore Orioles. Jimenez is in the third season of a four-year, $50 million deal signed before the start of the 2014 season. The 32-year-old pitcher is set to earn 13.5 million in 2017, which makes it challenging for the Orioles to cut ties with Jimenez.

Through tough times, the hard-working Jimenez always strives to become better and wants nothing more than to contribute to the team. Well, Jimenez has done that as of late and during a time of the season where the Orioles need him most. Entering Monday’s play, the Baltimore Orioles currently sit two games ahead of the Detriot Tigers for the remaining wild card spot and two games behind the Red Sox for first place in the American League East as they start a three-game series tonight at Fenway.

Does a rejuvenated Jimenez remain in the Orioles rotation for the remainder of the season and possibly into the postseason?