Gametime: 12:05 (STO)
Will a New Jake be showing up at the former Jake today? Hell, I don't really care. It makes for a nice fantasy to think of your 30-year-old sinkerballer suddenly breaking out into some kind of beast, rather than starting the three-year path to obscurity that is more customary for this kind of pitcher.
And it has happened before. And I've always had this feeling about Jake – yes, in my gut, and not particularly in my brain – that he was something just a bit better than he appears to be. But it's for that very reason that I don't really care if the New Jake shows up today; I liked the Old Jake just fine.
I went to look up Jake's numbers from 2007 and was kind of shocked to find a 4.32 ERA – I had to check two or three different sites to make sure it wasn't an error. I knew he had a stellar second half, one of the best in the league. But when he went on the DL after six starts last May, he had a 7.90 ERA. He came back on June 24 – at the historic first-ever LGT summit – and needed 11 very fine starts to get his ERA under 5.
He eventually got it all the way down to 4.32, which would have been 27th in the league had he qualified. His post-DL ERA of 3.54 would have been 10th. His start in Yankee Stadium in the ALDS was a disaster, the Tribe's only loss in that series. But he more than redeemed himself with two quality starts against the Red Sox in the ALCS – the Tribe's only two quality starts in that series.
And then there's his Grapefruit League numbers:
18.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 7 H, 20 SO, 5 BB
So I don't really know if that was the New Jake in the ALCS, or in the second half, or if that was just Really Solid Old Jake back then but it was New Jake that was freaking out the Braves in his last Spring Training start, or if maybe there is no New Jake. And I don't really care. I just know that it seems like everybody did a bang-up job getting him patched up and rehabbed, and that's all I'm really asking for. I'll take the Old Jake for 33 starts, no problem.