Joe Jimenez Is The Worst Pitcher In Baseball, But That's Not Entirely His Fault

I struggled with whether or not to write this blog. In general, I don’t like being mean. I have zero ill will towards Joe Jimenez. In fact, I actually have a lot of respect for him. It can’t be easy to go out there every few days, eat your lunch and have to answer for what happened. I do respect the guy and I hope that he finds a way against all odds to turn this thing around. He’s on my favorite team and I hope he succeeds. With that said, I truly believe that Joe Jimenez is the worst pitcher in baseball. I’m including both starters and relievers. I’m sure I could probably find any random guy who made 3 bad starts this year and say “Oh, that guy is the worst pitcher in baseball” but I’m limiting it to pitchers who have a fairly large sample size. 

Joe Jimenez was a revelation in the first half of the 2018 season. His fastball was firm, he was throwing it for strikes, and his slider seemed like a legitimate putaway pitch. He looked like the closer of the future, and if he wasn’t going to be that, then he was going to be tremendous trade bait at some point. My o my how things have changed. It all started on June 25th of 2018 against the A’s. On that day, Briefcase Joe gave up 3 runs, ballooning his ERA from an elite 1.98 to a still very respectable 2.65. At the time we viewed it as just one bad outing. Sadly, that blowup outing was going to become the norm over the next 3 years. 

Since July 11 of 2018, just over 3 calendar years, Joe Jimenez has a 5.98 ERA. That is the 8th highest among pitchers with at least 120 innings pitched over that span. Of those 8 pitchers, Joe Jimenez and Matt Harvey are the only ones still on Major League rosters. But Jimenez is the only one of those 8 pitchers who hasn’t started a game and he’s also the only one who is still on a major league roster. Phil Maton is the second on that list among relievers, and his ERA sits at 5.53, almost half a run better than Jimenez. 

This is where it would be easy for me to come on here and metaphorically hurl tomatoes at Joe Jimenez as I boo him off the stage like a bad comic. I’m not going to do that. Joe Jimenez is not a good pitcher, but Joe Jimenez is one guy working his ass off trying to make a living as a major league reliever. The issue is not Joe Jimenez, the issue is the team that employs Joe Jimenez. This is a guy that over a long period of time has shown that he is not capable of pitching consistent baseball at the major-league level, and yet he stays on a major-league roster, and because the Tigers ran out of pitchers over the weekend, AJ Hinch was forced to use him in high leverage situations TWICE! That is a joke. 

There are things about this Detroit Tigers rebuild that I find admirable. They do have good young talent. Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson look like they’re going to be stars. But we are 5 years into this rebuild, and many of the relievers that this organization believed at one point we’re going to be key pieces of this pen (Daniel Norris, Bryan Garcia, Joe Jimenez etc.) have turned into garbage time guys/fringe major league pitchers. This is going to be something that’s going to be a problem for the rest of the rebuild. Kyle Funkhouser, Jose Cisnero, and Gregory Soto can’t pitch every day. Bullpens are built from within, and right now in 2021, the Tigers middle relief remains probably the worst in all of baseball. Unless their starters are going to go seven innings a night, this is going to continue to be an issue for the next several seasons. Yes, Joe Jimenez has turned out to be the worst of them. I wish that I could say that he’s the exception and not the rule, but that isn't the case. The bullpen remains an issue.