Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez said he was somewhat surprised that he was added to the Orioles’ American League Division Series roster, but he thought he might have a chance after the way he had pitched down the stretch.
“I was wondering,” said Jimenez, who was 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA in 25 games this year but 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in three September appearances. “I realize that the other guys have been doing their job, so I know it was a tough call. But I was really happy to have the opportunity to be on the roster, and I’m looking forward to doing my job.”
When deciding on his 25-man ALDS roster, manager Buck Showalter said he considered several factors, including the Detroit Tigers’ right-handed heavy lineup, versatility and recent performance. While Jimenez and infielder Jimmy Paredes made the cut, left-handed relievers Brian Matusz and T.J. McFarland and base running specialist Quintin Berry didn’t.
“It was tough, they are going to get introduced and be in the bullpen,” Showalter said of Matusz and McFarland. “It was tough conversations … They understand it, and [we] made a point in the advanced meeting we had [Wednesday] and the get-together we had, making sure everyone understood why. If we are fortunate enough to advance, they will be very much in the mix for the next round. It’s just who we are playing more than anything.”
Jimenez won his last two starts and pitched a scoreless inning of relief in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. It was just his third major league relief appearance since he came out of the bullpen for his debut in 2006.
“Why does he not have much experience in the bullpen? He’s been a good starter, and he’s had good stuff over his career,” Showalter said. “His last three outings have been good.”
Jimenez is 5-9 with a 4.93 ERA against Detroit in his career. One of his best outings this year, however, was against the Tigers on May 13 when he threw seven shutout innings.
Showalter said there were “a few other equations, too” that went into selecting Jimenez, though he didn’t offer specifics. One obvious one is that the club signed him to a four-year, $50 million contract this season. They’ll have him for a while, and the decision certainly illustrates renewed faith in the veteran.
“It feels really good. It’s amazing. I thank God for the opportunity,” Jimenez said. “It’s not how you start. It’s how you end.”
The other slight surprise was the decision not to activate Berry, who is 30-for-30 in stolen bases as a major leaguer, including 5-for-5 in the playoffs. He has been in the World Series the past two years.
“That was a tough one, but their starters' ability to hold runners, their relief pitchers do a nice job of holding runners. [Catcher] Alex Avila's one of the better throwers,” Showalter said. “We also think with David Lough and Jimmy Paredes, [we] have quality foot speed. Kelly [Johnson] doesn't clog the bases. We feel like we're OK there. That was a tough one, though, because he's obviously been a contributor with that.”