When Edgar Renteria was traded last year, nobody thought that the young pitcher we got in return would be the Ace of our staff in August. But here we sit on August 5 – John Smoltz done for the season, Tom Glavine hoping to be able to return this weekend, Mike Hampton having only made two starts, and Tim Hudson out for at least a year after falling victim to torn ligaments in his elbow. That leaves 22 year old Jair Jurrjens – who had only pitched in 7 big league games before the 2008 season – the ace of the Braves. The only original starting pitcher who has limited his injuries to falling down dugout stairs is Jurrjens. He’s the only one who’s stayed off the disabled list.
And he’s one heck of a young pitcher! At 22 years old, Jurrjens shows impressive command of his changeup and fastball, and the patience and confidence of a much older pitcher. Jurrjens’ changeup was dubbed “invisible” by Adam LaRoche earlier this year. So far in the 2008 campaign, Jurrjens is 10-7, pitched 138 innings, and has struck out 97 batters and only walked 49. Oh, and his ERA is 3.12. Anybody would take this as a third season in the majors, let alone their rookie year. He’s quickly become a fan favorite.
Jurrjens is humble too – he regularly gives the credit for winning to others and takes the credit for a loss when defensive or offensive issues could easily be blamed. Not only is he playing on his and his father’s favorite team, he’s quickly becoming the hero of his home island of Curacao – also home of Andruw Jones (who’s hitting .161 for the Dodgers, by the way). Jurrjens said of Jones earlier this year “It’s going to be fun to face him – it’s going to be even more fun to strike him out.” Note that Jurrjens struck Jones out all three times that day – though that can hardly be considered much of a feat.
We’ll see where Jurrjens goes as the years go on – but he is considered one of the bright young pitching stars in the Braves’ system. From a fan’s perspective, it’s refreshing to see some young pitching talent ready to take the spotlight for years to come. Welcome to Atlanta, Jair. We’re glad you like it here. Stick around – not all of us are going to dress up in scrubs and join Jurrjens’ Surgeons, but we’re all pulling for you.
Tags: Jair Jurrjens
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