When talking about underrated pitchers we don’t expect the names to be of the household variety. We don’t usually expect two of them to pitch on the same team. And we definitely do not expect them to pitch in Colorado. Despite this, Ubaldo Jiminez and Jorge De La Rosa fit the “underrated” mold perfectly. Very rarely do Colorado pitchers make a run at “ace” status, but Jiminez is doing just that. Call him a “soft ace” for now as his control still leave’s something to be desired, but looking at his last two full seasons we can see a star in the making. 2008 was Jiminez’ first full season in the bigs and he was pretty impressive for a rookie, sporting a 3.99ERA with 172Ks in 198.2IP. As young pitchers often do he had some control trouble, walking 103 which contributed to a base choking 1.44WHIP. In 2009 Jiminez improved all his peripherals, became a standout pitcher and the ace of the Rockies staff. His second straight season with 33+ starts saw him with a 3.47ERA with 198K’s in 218IP as well as lowering his H/9 and BB/9 and bringing his WHIP down to 1.22. Walks were still a problem, however, with 85 in those 218IP. All of this while pitching in Colorado and not mentioning that he just turned 26 in January of this year. A rising strikeout rate and falling walk rate both point to Jiminez having another great season in 2010.
Jorge De La Rosa didn’t have near the early success that his teammate did. His first 4 seasons in the major were spent as a reliever and spot stater fr the Brewers and then the Royals before coming to Colorado in 2008. Those first 4 seasons did not inspire confidence, a combined ERA of 5.85, 1.74WHIP, 196K’s in 274IP. The, in 2008, something strange happened. De La Rosa came to Colorado, and improved. He matched his career high of 130 innings and gave a 4.92ERA. Hardly anything to get excited about, but looking a bit deeper shows a bigger change to De La Rosa’s game. He became a strikeout pitcher. For the first time in his career, De La Rosa sustained a high strikeout rate over a large sample of innings. In 2009 he was even better with a 4.38ERA in 185IP with 193K’s. An electric second half cemented the fact that his improvement is no fluke. Over the second half of the 2009 season De La Rosa was 11th best among starters with 9.4K/9. Drops in his walk rate, hit rate and steady home run rate all show legitimate improvement . While we may never see a sub-3.00ERA or 20 wins out of Jorge De La Rosa he and Jiminez both deserve credit for forming what could be one of the more formidable 1-2 punches in the NL.