Make Or Break Year: Jair Jurrjens

The Braves boast an enviable collection of young pitchers, enough that they were able to trade Derek Lowe this offseason, lose Tim Hudson to injury, and still go 10-7 early on. Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy, and Tommy Hanson have carried the bulk of the workload while Randall Delgado cuts his teeth as the fifth starter and Julio Teheran bides his time in Triple-A. One guy who has not carried his weight so far is right-hander Jair Jurrjens.

Uspw_6190304Jurrjens, 26, made a fourth straight disaster start last night – five runs in three innings to the Dodgers – and was demoted to Triple-A after the game. He's allowed 17 runs and put 38 men on base in 16 1/3 innings across those four starts after posting a 2.96 ERA and being named to the NL All-Star Team last year. Jurrjens did finish last season on the disabled list though, missing a total of 44 games with right knee inflammation. He had surgery on the same knee after the 2010 season and has made a total of five trips to the disabled list since his debut in 2007.

The biggest physical concern with Jurrjens is not necessarily his knee, but his declining fastball velocity. PitchFX data says he averaged between 91.2 and 91.9 mph every year from 2007-2010 before dropping off to 89.1 mph last season and 88.4 mph in the early going this season. The start-by-start plot of his fastball velocity range is troubling, especially since he had shoulder problems in 2007 (inflammation) and 2010 (stiffness). Only once in his four years had Jurrjens topped 200 innings (2009) and only twice has he topped 160 innings (2008 and 2009).

Although his ERA has fluctuated through the years, Jurrjens has maintained a steady walk (3.2 BB/9) and strikeout (6.1 K/9) rate through his career. He started his time in the big leagues by getting a healthy amount of ground balls (49.6% from 2007-2008), though he's become more susceptible to fly balls in recent years (41.7% from 2009-2012). After producing 3.7 and 3.9 wins above replacement in 2008 and 2009 according to FanGraphs, respectively, he's produced just 2.2 WAR total in the two years and three weeks since.

Jurrjens will make $5.5MM this season, his second year of arbitration eligibility as a Super Two. The Braves made no secret of their willingness to trade him this past offseason, most notably offering him to the Orioles as part of a package for Adam Jones. They also had talks with the Rockies, Red Sox, Royals, Orioles, Blue Jays, Tigers, and Reds. Given his relatively high salary, two more years of arbitration eligibility, his injury problems, and all the young arms in the rotation around him, Jurrjens suddenly looks like a potential non-tender candidate if he can't right the ship in Triple-A and contribute to the big league club this season.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.


18 Responses to Make Or Break Year: Jair Jurrjens Leave a Reply

  1. chico65 3 years ago

    Umm…I vote it’s broken

  2. vincentjulian 3 years ago

    Make or break? Getting sent down to AAA = pretty much broke already.

  3. Lastings 3 years ago

    The timing of this post couldn’t be better…

  4. jwick18 3 years ago

    wish he would tell the team where he is hurt and stop blaming it on not trusting his knee

  5. thekidfromyesterday 3 years ago

    We have traded him in the offseason but even now I’m sure we could get some kind of package maybe cash or some prospects

    • Tko11 3 years ago

      Key words: “some kind” 

    • OnDeckBatta10 3 years ago

      The deal with the Reds was Chris Heisey and Juan Francisco for Jurrjens and Jairo Asencio.. Reds then went with Latos

  6. OnDeckBatta10 3 years ago

    The team says his knee is fine and not injured.. honestly, I’ve noticed he hasn’t been wearing his puka shells all season. I find it odd that in an interview last year he says he wears them because it reminds him of who he is and keeps him humble… now in recent interviews he says he just not the same pitcher.. maybe it’s time for the puka shells!

  7. brucefan5 3 years ago

    So glad the reds picked up Latos instead of him

    • Otis26 3 years ago

      Ditto on the Royals not biting on that. Hope DM has learned his lesson about picking up Atlanta scraps. (see: Kyle Davies.)

  8. bringbackandruw 3 years ago

    You know what, I’m sticking with Jurrjens. Does every stat you can possibly think of speak against him? Yes. Injury prone? Yuuup. But hey, what can I say when i like a guy i stick by him through the good times and the bad. 

  9. Is Jair Jurrjens hiding an injury? I think it’s safe to say that it’s broken, especially with an ERA over 9. The drop in velocity is alarming…but is it psychological, or is it related to his arm or shoulder?

  10. bennie2323 3 years ago

    Didnt Cliff Lee get sent down to AAA about this same time in his career and come back and win CY Young!!! Yeh Im a homer but JJ has shown how good he can be in the past, so if he’s healthy I see no reason he cant get back to where he was…

  11. Everyone is panicking way to much. Give him time to get his delivery str8 in AAA and he will come back and be an effective starter

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