If you're like I used to be and like a lot of Twins fans and teams of American League teams in general are, you don't really pay much attention to the National League. Well, you should start paying attention to the Rockies, but only every fifth day, because Ubaldo Jimenez is destroying the world.
Earlier today, he tossed a shoutout against the Giants, allowing just four hits and striking out nine. This improved his record to 10-1, lowered his ERA to 0.78, and extended his streak of consecutive games allowing 2 or fewer earned runs to 11. Staggering numbers.
That streak of 11 straight is the fourth best in history to start a season (behind Lou Vette in 1939 with 14 and John Tudor '88 and Edinson Volquez '08 with 12) and a top 50 streak in history (if he goes one more it will be a top-25 streak - Roger Clemens holds the all-time mark with 21).
I can't find a way to look up lowest ERA at this point in the season in history, so I looked up a few guys with historic seasons to see where they stood at the end of May.
- In 2000, Pedro Martinez had a truly insane season, the best of his insane career, when he posted a 1.74 ERA in a year when the league average was 5.68, perhaps the greatest pitching season ever, all things considered. At the end of May, his ERA was 1.05.
- In 1985, super phenom Dwight Gooden had a season on par with Pedro's, chewing up the league with an ERA of 1.52 - the best since 1968. At the end of May, his ERA was 1.75.
- Greg Maddux, the best pitcher of our generation in my opinion, had back-to-back seasons in 1994 and 1995 that were just incredible, posting ERAs of 1.56 and 1.63. His ERAs after May were 1.47 and 2.37.
- For an easier frame of memory reference, you probably remember how Zack Greinke set the league on fire last year, and how he seemed completely unhittable out of the gate. At the end of May, his ERA was 1.10.
- Finally, in 1968, Bob Gibson would finish the season with an ERA of 1.12, the modern record. At the end of May he was sitting at 1.52.
Ubaldo's ERA is lower than all of these, and in some cases by a half-run or more. I don't know if this is the best start in history, because like I said I can't find that information, but he's off to a better start than the best seasons ever by a pitcher. It's insane.
He's doing it with the fastest fastball in the league amongst starters with an average of 96.1 mph, and also mixes in a curve, slider, and change-up. He gets guys to miss, and when they do make contact they hit groundballs twice as often as flyballs and pretty much never hit line drives, which accounts for a low BABIP of .226. That number will almost certainly have to go up, and his WHIP and ERA along with it, but no matter what we are looking at a historically awesome start and possibly one of the best seasons in history, or at least this century.
He's everything we thought Francisco Liriano could be. He also has one of the highest average pitch counts per start, as well. Better hope that arm doesn't fall off.