(Photo: Greg M. Cooper, USA TODAY Sports)
2020 season age: 29 – Throws: R – Bats: R – Contract: – $583, 500 (Pre-Arb)
2019 in review: Cimber’s first full season in Cleveland was a bit of a struggle. He’s been used as a mostly right-on-right reliever, a shift from how he was used in San Diego as a rookie with few expectations. Not known for missing bats, Cimber’s strikeouts dropped even further in 2019 from his rookie year 41 in 56.2 innings with 19 walks and a 4.45 ERA. Left handers lit him up to the tune of a .390 wOBA, while right handers had a .278 wOBA.
Beyond the stats: Both Cimber’s fastball velocity and spin rate are well below league average, though his spin rate isn’t so low that it can be an advantage for the pitch. Having just an average spin rate is a bad place to be. There are obvious advantages for high fastball spin, but also on the other end of the spectrum. Cimber is too close to the middle of the pack in spin for it to really help him (2166 23rd percentile). Still, he managed to end 2019 above average in many interesting contact marks – 66th percentile in exit velocity, 67th percentile in hard hit %, 58th percentile in xwOBA, and 64th in xSLG. None of those marks are great, but they’re slightly above middle of the pack, which is interesting that he’s able to limit extremely hard contact despite the lower velocity and spin. His slider had a .245 wOBA last year, far and away the only pitch he had such success with. However, he threw his sinker 35% more than the slider last year.
On the mound: As a unique submarine pitcher, Cimber throws a sinker, slider, and a normal four seam fastball. None of the three pitches have good spin, so the arm angle and command have to get him by. As noted above, his slider has been far and away his best pitch in his 2+ MLB seasons, but it’s not the pitch he’s thrown most often. In fact, in 2018 it was his least used pitch and 2nd most in 2019.
2020 role: The three batter minimum really puts Cimber’s effectiveness into further question than his performance in 2019. The numbers have bore out in his two year career that left handers crush him and he’s extremely effective against right handers. If he’s to be on the Indians roster in 2020, he’s going to have to face some left handers unless Terry Francona brings him in to face a right hander at the end of an inning after a pitcher who has already faced three or more batters (that’s the only loophole). Cimber has said he’s been making some tweaks to help him against lefties but either way, it’s going to be fair to wonder what his role and future MLB career looks like if he can’t get left handed hitters out.
Fantasy impact: Cimber is no help with strikeouts, so that’s one strike against him (pun intended) as a fantasy relief option. Before the three batter rule, Francona would use him to pair with Oliver Perez to pick up holds by facing one or two batters each, so that gave him some faint fantasy relevance. However, that’s even more in question now, so Cimber isn’t going to be a guy you’re going to look to have on your fantasy roster unless he all of the sudden starts getting left handers out and earns more set up opportunities.