Milwaukee Brewers Grades: Cesar Jimenez
Sep 8, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Cesar Jimenez (51) throws against the Miami Marlins during the fourth inning at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Brewers claimed 30-year-old journeyman Cesar Jimenez from the Phillies on August 21, just hours after their lefty Neal Cotts was claimed on waivers by an unknown team. That team turned out to be the Minnesota Twins, who sent (or will send) cash back to Milwaukee in return. Jimenez stepped in immediately as the team’s only bullpen lefty outside of Will Smith.
Jimenez first appeared in the Majors in 2006 as a 21-year-old, when the league gave him an ice cold welcome, scoring 12 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings (14.43 ERA). He wouldn’t see a Major League field again until 2008, and the lefty bounced between the Majors and minors for years, next pitching in the Bigs in 2011, then 2013.
As a result, Jimenez has pitched in part of 10 seasons in AAA, posting a 3.84 ERA over 262 appearances (25 starts). Jimenez has posted strong strikeout or groundball numbers, which doesn’t earn much confidence, but this superb piece from Ryan Romano with Baseball Prospectus shows his improvement in both of those facets.
With a career 6.9 strikeouts per 9 innings, Jimenez nonetheless struck out almost ten batters per 9 in 2015. We’re of course talking tiny sample sizes here, but a guy with 104 1/3 career MLB innings spanning a decade leaves an awful lot to speculation.
As far as the Brewers are concerned, Jimenez tossed 19 2/3 innings while giving up eight earned runs (3.66 ERA, 3.54 FIP). That inning count is the most the Venezuelan has thrown for any team since 2008.
Jimenez also pitched 3 1/3 shutout for the Phillies in 2015, dropping his season ERA to 3.13 on the year. Over the last three years, Jimenez has a 2.89 ERA in 56 innings, which adds up to about one productive Major League year.
While Jimenez could be seen as the type of expendable player that could be gone by the start of the next season, there is no reason to think he couldn’t be a solid lefty specialist for the Crew. After all, in a small sample from 2013-15, lefties hit well under .200 against him.
Jimenez’s combined AAA/MLB samples paint a more thorough picture, and even then, the most damage his lefty opponents have done to him in a season hitting just .237/.306/.329 in 2014.