Jose Lima was a big dog. Make no mistake. Lima passed away this week at the age of 37, due to what is being reported as a heart attack. This is a considerable loss for the game of baseball.
Lima signed with the Detroit Tigers as a free agent in 1989 out of the Dominican Republic. He made his big league debut in 1994 with the Tigers and played in Detroit through the 1996 season when he was dealt to the Houston Astros. Lima had an ERA of over 6 in his three seasons in Detroit and his struggles continued during his first season with the Astros as he limped to a 1-6 record. However, he turned things around in 1998.
At the height of the steroid era, Lima had his best two seasons. He won 16 games in 1998 and 21 games in 1999. He made the All Star team in 1999 and finished 4th in Cy Young voting. Those seasons in Houston were his best as a professional. His antics and enthusiasm on the mound were finally matched by his superb performance.
In 2000, Lima came crashing back to earth. That season, Lima struggled to a 7-16 record and an ERA of 6.65, allowing a staggering 48 home runs, the second most in Major League history. He was given a shot to get things back on track in 2001, but got off to a rough start and found himself back in Detroit with the Tigers. He bounced around the next few years with Detroit, Kansas City, the Dodgers and the Mets.me
While in LA with the Dodgers, Lima bounced back, going 13-5 in 2004, when almost the entire baseball world thought he was finished. He spent time in the bullpen and in the rotation with the Dodgers and made thousands of new fans with his performance and his attitude. That season the Dodgers made the postseason and Lima threw a complete game shutout for his only career playoff win. Big.
After exiting the bigs in 2006, Lima bounced around some Dominican and Korean leagues. He complained of chest pain to his wife the night he died. He died of a massive heart attack.
He finished his career with 89 wins and 102 losses. His career ERA was 5.26, good for an ERA+ of 85.
Lima coined the term “Lima Time”. Lima Time was what Lima called his time on the mound. He was confident yet you could tell the guy just wanted to have fun.