2014 Phillies Report Card: Cesar Jimenez
Did you find yourself watching one of the 16 games Cesar Jimenez appeared in this season and experiencing a certain feeling of malaise or gently lingering dread? Did a wave of resignation sweep over you as you suddenly started feeling a little more sleepy than you initially realized?
It’s not just you! Jimenez had the honor of appearing in those 16 games for the Phillies this season, only to have 14 of those result in losses. Thirteen of the 16 appearances came at a point in the game where the Phillies were already losing, and a fourteenth came with a seven-run lead. You would be correct in assuming Jimenez didn’t exactly rack up many points in the leverage department.
Separating Jimenez from things almost entirely not his fault, however, we find something a little less morose – if no more interesting or encouraging – when examining his 2014 season.
Jimenez poked his head out of the groundhog’s hole from a brief, two-game stint in June, but logged the bulk of his residency in August and September, in the wake of the Phillies’ stagnant non-waiver trade deadline season. As stated, he was relegated almost exclusively to mop-up duty after his recall, but it was decent mop-up duty. It was probably something akin to the poor souls who have to tidy up Times Square on New Year’s Day: there’s a real big mess all around, so they’ll probably miss a few confetti chips here and there.
Jimenez’s first 14 appearances were scoreless, save for two of 11 inherited runners. The only time he did allow runs, they came in a bunch during his penultimate appearance of the season, when the Padres’ Will Venable rather rudely transformed a 4-1 game into a 7-1 game in San Diego. There are varying qualities to the term “scoreless,” however. These weren’t Ken Giles appearances Jimenez was twirling; instead, Jimenez managed to skate by with eight strikeouts against seven walks in his 16 innings. He had no platoon splits, but sample size (42 PA vs. RHB, 23 vs. LHB) renders that essentially moot beyond a shrug of the shoulders.
And a shrug of the shoulders basically embodies what Jimenez is at this point. He doesn’t impress with his velocity (averaging below 90 MPH), doesn’t possess a put-away pitch (producing contact rates above average and whiff rates below average). The trend isn’t exactly a positive one, either:
Assuming Mario Hollands recovers and Antonio Bastardo isn’t traded before the club reconvenes for the spring – both assumptions being far from sure things – Jimenez is the fourth-best left-handed relief option currently on the active roster. As luck would have it, Jimenez has also accrued enough service time to be arbitration-eligible, as if the uncertainty surrounding his future on this team needed other wrinkles.
Had he prevented runs over a longer stretch of the season – even given his less-than-thrilling peripherals – Jimenez would be more of a curiosity. As it is, thoughts of he and loss mop-up duty go hand-in-hand, and he didn’t do a ton to distinguish himself.