As reported by Atlanta Braves beat writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Braves RHP Jair Jurrjens has been optioned to triple-A after last night’s loss to the Dodgers. He’s 0-2 and hasn’t looked good at all this year or even during Spring Training. Updates and reactions to come as the day goes on.
Tags: Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Braves Blog, Jair Jurrjens
Posted in General, Pitching, Roster Moves | No Comments »
By Bud L. Ellis
Forgive Jair Jurrjens if he felt like the forgotten man as the 2011 Atlanta Braves gathered for spring training.
Nestled among the theme parks of Disney World in Orlando, the only thing more prominent than mouse ears and overpriced souvenirs in the spring home of the Braves was the sheer excess of talented arms that would make up – or figure in the near future to join – Atlanta’s starting rotation.
But as we approach Memorial Day, the first major checkpoint in the marathon that is baseball’s regular season, Atlanta’s ace is easy to pinpoint. And it’s not the veteran with a World Series ring (Derek Lowe), or the National League’s comeback player of the year (Tim Hudson), or the young hard-thrower destined for stardom (Tommy Hanson), or any of the legion of young arms who look earmarked for major-league duty (Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Brandon Beachy).
The man for the Braves through the first two months has been Jurrjens, the 25-year-old from Curacao who time and time again has steadied a team that began play Thursday just three games in arrears of the vaunted Phillies in the NL East. Jurrjens is 6-1 and leads the majors with a sparkling 1.56 ERA, walking just nine hitters in 57 2/3 innings.
Starting his fourth full season with the Braves, Jurrjens found himself at a crossroads as spring began. Injuries and inconsistency derailed his 2010 campaign. While Atlanta reached the postseason for the first time since 2005, Jurrjens made just 20 starts, going 7-6 with a bloated 4.64 ERA. This followed two stellar seasons in which he won 13 games and finished third in NL rookie-of-the-year voting in 2008, then posted 14 games with a 2.60 ERA in a league-leading 34 starts in 2009.
While Jurrjens showed plenty of promise since coming over in the Edgar Renteria trade with Detroit in October 2007, there were plenty of reasons to wonder as camp unfolded in Central Florida this spring if Jurrjens would be the one surplus arm Frank Wren and Co. would use to improve a team that many pegged in preseason as a playoff contender. After all, Lowe dominated down the stretch last season. Hudson came back from Tommy John surgery better than ever. Hanson won double-digit games in his first full major-league campaign. Minor and Beachy impressed in late-season callups.
The red flags waved when Jurrjens left his final spring training start with a strained oblique, starting the season on the disabled list. But since returning to action with seven scoreless innings April 16 against the Mets, Jurrjens has been unflappable, pitching into the seventh inning or later five times and allowing no more than two earned runs in any of his eight starts. Four of his wins have followed a Braves’ loss.
If the Braves return to October baseball this fall, pitching will lead the way. And right now, nobody in Atlanta – or for that matter, the National League – has set the pace better than the Curacao Kid.
Tags: Jair Jurrjens
Posted in General | 1 Comment »
Taking two out of three from the Nats in D.C. may not sound like much, but the Braves are now just 12-18 in Nationals Park since it opened in 2008. And while winning this series means next to nothing in the grand scheme of an 162 game season, it’s nice to see the “Freddi Era” off to a good start (even if he is batting Jason Heyward, the Prince of Princes and he of the .390 OBP variety, sixth). Here are a few thoughts and impressions from the Braves’ opening weekend:
1) Jason Heyward
It was quite a thrill to see him homer in his first at bat yet again, but what should Braves fans expect out of J-Hey in year two? A significant increase in power will not come until he starts hitting more fly balls, but it’s almost impossible to predict if this will happen in 2011. If he continues to hit grounders at an alarmingly high rate (55% last season, 7th highest in MLB), Jason can still improve by striking out less than he did last season. And if his minor league numbers are any indication, this should happen. So while we may not see an increase in power this season, if Jason puts the ball in play more, it will lead to a higher batting average/OBP in 2011.
2) Tommy Hanson
It was frustrating to watch Hanson struggle in his first start, but there is little reason for concern. His fastball velocity was down (91.1 MPH compared to a career average of 92.5), but the weather was poor and caused a delay before the game even started. Look for him to rebound against Milwaukee on Thursday, and even if he doesn’t, don’t panic.
3) Pitching Depth
The news that Jair Jurrjens will miss his first start and head to the DL shouldn’t be too concerning either; the Braves have more than enough depth to cover him in his absence. Mike Minor will fill in for now, but what if another injury happens? While top prospect Julio Teheran may not be considered part of the Major League ready depth just yet, the front office has announced that he will start the season in Gwinnett. Seems like they are trying to keep him awfully close to Turner Field…..or at least closer than Kenshin Kawakami.
The Braves start a four-game series against the Brewers this afternoon before coming home to the home opening series against the Phillies this weekend.
Tags: Jair Jurrjens, Jason Heyward, Tommy Hanson
Posted in General | 1 Comment »
As has been speculated over the past couple of days, the Braves have officially placed Jair Jurrjens on the 15-day disabled list and called Mike Minor up to Atlanta. Jurrjens has been fighting a right oblique strain since a late-March Spring Training start.
Jurrjens was originally slated to make his first start of the season on Monday against the Brewers, but the Braves have decided to make the more cautious approach to help try to keep Jair healthy through the season. He missed a few months of the 2010 season after experiencing knee and hamstring issues.
Minor will make a spot start against the Brewers on Wednesday and will likely stay in Atlanta until Jurrjens is healthy enough to be reactivated. In 8 starts for the Braves in 2010, Minor had a 3-2 record with a 5.98 ERA, striking out 43 and walking 11 in 40 2/3 innings. Minor will have to continue to work on his pitch placement to cut down on the number of hits he gives up, but he’s a great pitcher in the making for the Braves.
Jurrjens DL stint will be retroactive to March 25th and eligible to be reactivated in about a week, but it looks like a mid-to-late April return is much more likely.
Let’s hope this isn’t a sign of things to come in 2011 and on for Jurrjens as the Braves need to capitalize on the upside and potential he offers.
Tags: Disabled List, Injury, Jair Jurrjens
Posted in Injuries, Pitching | 3 Comments »
Jair Jurrjens returned to the Atlanta Braves’ rotation yesterday rested and ready to do battle against the Washington Nationals. In five-plus innings, Jurrjens struck out six and allowed one run (thanks to the relief work of Peter Moylan) and knocked in the go-ahead run as the Braves took the rubber game of the series and won 4-1.
Jurrjens’ admitted to being nervous before the start after two months on the Disabled List because of a hamstring injury, but showed none of it on the mound. His fake bunt and slash RBI single to left field almost took out Ryan Zimmerman on its way to left field.
As our own Kent Covington has pointed out, Jurrjens’ hamstring injury was a blessing in disguise. In Spring Training, Jurrjens battled an inflamed shoulder and elbow. The two months on the bench gave his shoulder and elbow time to recover that simply wasn’t happening before the injury, when his fastballs were routinely in the high 80s. Last night, Jurrjens’ fastball was what Kent calls “resting” in the low 90s – indicating Jurrjens is likely not experiencing the arm issues he was before his DL stint. The other hidden blessing of Jurrjens’ injury was of course the rise of Kris Medlen as the best 5th starter candidate on the team.
If Jurrjens can stay healthy the rest of the season and be as effective as he was last night, his return from the DL will become the equivalent of pulling off a blockbuster trade for another ace. Jurrjens is probably our number two or three pitcher in this rotation, and with his return, our rotation is stronger than it was with Kawakami in Jurrjens’ spot.
Tags: Atlanta Braves, Jair Jurrjens, Washington Nationals
Posted in Game Analysis, Pitching | 1 Comment »
In his latest “Fried Baseball” audio blog, Kent Covington talks about the return of Jair Jurrjens, Tim Hudson’s dominance, and Jason Heyward’s thumb. Throw in your 2 cents in the comments area below… or leave a message with your questions or comments for a future commentary at 888-669-5368 (ext.701.)
Tags: Disabled List, Fried Baseball, Injury, Jair Jurrjens, Jason Heyward, Tim Hudson
Posted in Injuries, Pitching | 4 Comments »
After posting yesterday that it was time for Kenshin Kawakami to leave the starting rotation for the Atlanta Braves, we kicked off the battle between those who say KK should go to the bullpen when Jair Jurrjens returns and those who think Kris Medlen should move back. Browsing around the web, it seems that there are a number of supporters of each option, although, here on BravesBlast, 73% of poll takers think that KK should lose his starting job as opposed to 22% for Medlen.
In his latest “Fried Baseball” audio blog, Kent Covington addresses the flaming arrows aimed at Braves’ starter, Kenshin Kawakami, and solves the dilemma of who to send to the ‘pen upon Jair jurrjens’ return. Throw in your 2 cents and leave a message with your questions or comments for a future commentary at 888-669-5368 (ext.701.)
Tags: Jair Jurrjens, Kenshin Kawakami, Kris Medlen, Starting Rotation
Posted in General, Pitching | 29 Comments »
Kenshin Kawakami started last night. He went 5 innings and allowed 5 runs (only 2 of them earned, thanks to a plethora of errors), and landed his ninth loss of the season. Yes, that’s right, we have an 0-9 pitcher still in our starting rotation. Which I’m OK with, because Jair Jurrjens is still going through rehab. But let’s be honest, it’s time to pull the plug on Kawakami’s time in the rotation.
Once Jurrjens returns, he gets his starting rotation slot back. That’s not negotiable. But then who goes to the ‘pen and who stays in the rotation? Chris Resop helped matters by going 2 innings last night and giving up 5 earned runs. There’s no doubt HE isn’t our fifth starter. So does Medlen go back from whence he came or does Kawakami get the boot? Let’s look at some stats stripped of their owner.
|ERA||WHIP||K/9IP||BB/9IP||RS/GS||GS||QS||QS%||BA Against||OBP Against|
Pitcher 2 has gotten a little bit unlucky with run support, yes. But overall, Pitcher 1 is better across the board. Any of us would pick Pitcher 1 (who I’m sure you’ve figured out is Kris Medlen) over Pitcher 2. And Medlen is in his stride – he was absolutely dominant against the Twins in his last start. Medlen’s K/BB ratio (not included above) is 4.40, and Kawakami’s is 2.00. The bottom line is that Medlen is a better pitcher, more solid, and even though Kawakami has been unlucky, just a better pitcher. Medlen deserves the fifth starter slot. Period.
I’ve made the argument that we should be patient with Kawakami because we want to be able to sign other Japanese players, but I think we’ve been patient enough. It’s time to go with the best option we’ve got, and that’s not Kenshin, for all his effort.
Tags: Braves Rotation, Jair Jurrjens, Kenshin Kawakami, Kris Medlen
Posted in Pitching, Roster Moves | 29 Comments »
Earlier this week, we addressed the questions facing the Braves lineup heading into the spring. But what about the pitching? Numerous questions/doubts were raised by fans and observers over the winter regarding the Atlanta rotation and bullpen. So what have we learned over the course of the Spring?
Q. Will Billy Wagner be healthy, and will he resemble the “Wags” of old?
A. I never fully understood this question, since I thought it was largely answered last year, when he struck out 26 batters in 15.2 innings, and posted a 1.72 ERA after his late-season return from the disabled list.
Yes, he had UCL reconstruction (“Tommy John”) surgery, but that was back in 2008, and he was ahead of schedule at every stage in his recovery. More than a year and a half have passed since that surgery, from which there is now a better than 90% FULL recovery rate. All things considered, I cannot explain why his recovery wasn’t obvious to so many after the way he pitched late last year.
But those fans who were nervously observing him this spring should now rest easier. He has thrown the ball quite will, routinely firing fastballs in the mid-90’s. One radar gun reading drew gasps from the spring training crowd when a Wagner heater was clocked at 101 mph.
Q. Is Hudson healthy and ready to regain top-of-rotation form?
A. As with the Billy Wagner question, it has been difficult for me to comprehend the doubts so many have had in Hudson’s ability to perform at a high level in 2010.
Hudson is also more than a year and half removed from TJ surgery, and he looked fantastic after returning for 7 starts at the end of last season, posting a 3.61 ERA in 42 innings. One Major League scout commented at the time that it looked as though Hudson “had never left” (never been injured). The Braves had certainly seen enough to convince them of Hudson’s health and ability when they resigned him to a 3-year deal over the winter. But for those who needed further proof this spring… here ya go:
In 5 spring starts, Hudson is 3-1 with 1.35 ERA. He has also KO’d 17 batters in his 20 innings of pre-season work. His arm feels as good as it ever has, and opposing hitters will tell you his pitches have never been more difficult to square up.
Q. Will Derek Lowe bounce back from a disappointing 2009 season?
A. If his spring performance is any indication, he can and most likely will bounce back with a strong 2010 season. In an effort to correct mechanical flaws that led to an underwhelming ’09 season, Lowe worked with Braves’ Pitching Coach, Roger McDowell, on returning to a windup and delivery he had used to great effect earlier in his career.
The results have been very encouraging. This spring, for the most part, Lowe has been successful in getting opposing hitters to either beat the ball into the ground or swing through it all together. If you remove one start that was severely hampered (and shortened) by a blister, he wrapped up the Grapefruit League season with a 3.42 ERA and fewer hits than innings pitched.
Q. Is Jair Jurrjens shoulder healthy?
A. In a word: Yes. A February MRI revealed no damage in his shoulder, and the prescribed rest seemed to do the trick. Jurrjens has been gaining strength in his shoulder throughout the month of March, and now reportedly no longer feels any pain or discomfort in the shoulder whatsoever. His last outing was his best yet (5 innings, 1 hit, 3 K’s, no runs allowed). He is on track to start game 2 of the regular season on April 7, at home against the Chicago Cubs.
Q. After the bullpen “locks” (Wagner, Saito, Moylan, O’Flaherty), how will the ‘pen shape up?
A. Kris Medlen is quite highly thought of within the Braves organization and is another virtual lock to retain his seat in the Atlanta bullpen.
JoJo Reyes has frustrated Braves officials, who recognize his potential, with his inability to make the most of multiple chances to crack the big league starting rotation. This spring, the powers that be decided to test him in a relief role. It’s a test he’s passed with flying colors, and it appears he’ll open the season as the third lefty in the Atlanta ‘pen.
After landing with the Braves via Tampa Bay in the Rafael Soriano trade, Jesse Chavez has had a rough spring. A VERY rough spring. Having said that, he was quite effective in his two most recent appearances. But more importantly, he has something on his resume that those competing against him for the final bullpen spot do not… big league success. Chavez was quite solid for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 73 relief appearance last year, and that will likely more than atone for his rocky spring.
But don’t forget about Scott Proctor, who the Braves signed to a minor league deal back in November. The former Yankees bullpen workhorse (and former Braves trade target) is wrapping up what has thus far been a very successful rehabilitation from the “Tommy John” surgery he underwent last May. The hard throwing righty will likely supplant one member of the Atlanta ‘pen by the end of April.
PROJECTED BRAVES BULLPEN:
Wagner (LHP – Closer)
Saito (RHP – Setup Man)
Tags: 2010 Braves, Billy Wagner, Bullpen, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Pitching, Spring Training, Tim Hudson
Posted in Pitching, Speculation | 1 Comment »
It seems hardly fitting that today is the first Spring Training game for the Braves. I’m sitting here staring out the window in Atlanta to a very gray day outside and watching my car slowly get covered in snow. I’ve lived in Atlanta for 9 years and it has snowed maybe 3 times since I’ve been here, but I’m pretty sure this is the 5th significant snow this winter. That’s all irrelevant for the most part however.
In a couple of hours, the Braves are scheduled to take the field for their opening Grapefruit League game against the Mets. It’s mid-60s there, slight chance of rain, but nevertheless, it’s time for baseball.
So here’s where we are and what we’ve learned thus far in Spring Training:
Jason Heyward hits bombs. We’ve heard it plenty from every news source covering the Braves (and a number that really aren’t). Parking lots. New nets to protect cars. We get it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pumped to see this kid play, but I’m just ready to see how he handles live pitching. Batting practice is one thing, but I have no doubts that he can bring it at a big league level.
Jair Jurrjens is okay. It’ll be a few days before his pitch counts start to increase again, but all indications are that Jurrjens will be okay in the long run. I’d much rather the training staff takes their time with him and keeps him healthy down the stretch this season.
Derek Lowe is the opening day starter. I’m not terribly sure I agree with this, but it’s a showing of confidence from Bobby Cox so I can accept it. Any situation where Tim Hudson is your number four starter…..I’m okay with it. I’ve heard a little distaste about that fact, but seriously, step back and look at it. If this rotation is healthy, it’s stacked.
The games don’t matter. So maybe we haven’t really learned this one in Spring Training, but it’s just a reminder to everyone that the outcome of Spring Training games isn’t the real thing we should be looking at during this time of year. Keep your eye on individual performances, watch the young guys get the chance to show off a little, and get pumped up for baseball to get started back up at the Ted.
So that’s that, Braves vs. Mets at 1pm today. Tommy Hanson will throw a couple of innings and I’m looking for another big season out of him. What are you looking at in Spring Training? Young guys? Old guys trying to regain form? Either way, it’s time for baseball.
Tags: Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Jason Heyward, Spring Training, Tommy Hanson
Posted in General | 3 Comments »
The Braves starting pitching continues to excel this season – and while Frank Wren searches for some more offense to back up the staff, the Braves are not lacking in starting pitching depth.
Derek Lowe is 6-3 with a 3.49 ERA (8 quality starts), Jair Jurrjens is 5-2 with a beautiful 2.59 ERA (7 quality starts), and Javier Vazquez is doing ok – he has an even 4-4 record with a 3.58 ERA (7 quality starts). Behind that, Kenshin Kawakami appears to be struggling at 3-6 with a 4.73 ERA, but you’d be having trouble too if you only got an average of 1.7 runs scored per game when you were pitching. With such lousy run support, it’s a wonder Kawakami has three wins.
Glavine is ready to come to Atlanta and start. Whether or not he’ll be good, we’ll see. He’s ready though. Kris Medlen had two rough starts but was great in his last start as he struck out nine in six innings of work. He may just have a chance to stick around and prove he has the stuff he needs to excel in the majors. And of course we have Tommy Hanson honing his skills in Gwinnett, waiting to make the 45 minute drive south and show us his stuff. Oh, and Tim Hudson is on track for a return in August or September.
So what happens now? We’ve got Tommy ready to pitch, Medlen to give some playing time to, Hanson to fit in, and 2 pitchers that are doing alright.
I think the odd man out, interestingly enough, is Javier Vazquez. He has a high strikeout rate, but the Braves give him the most run support while he’s on the mound (5.5 runs per game) and yet he’s only 4-4 – and the Braves are only .455 when he gets the ball. To give you an idea of how bad that is, the Braves are .400 with Jo-Jo Reyes starting. Kawakami needs more run support, but with that run support he’ll likely be much better. He could end up being the odd man out too.
Who’s the odd man out? What does our rotation/bullpen look like at the end of the year?
Tags: Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Jo-Jo Reyes, Kenshin Kawakami, Kris Medlen, Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine, Tommy Hanson
Posted in General | 2 Comments »
Jair Jurrjens finally found his stride against the Pirates Friday night. After struggling with control for his first two starts of the season, Jurrjens threw a great outing, going 6 2/3 innings and only giving up one run. Unfortunately for Jair, the Braves failed to put a run on the board and he was stuck with the loss. Jurrjens comes into tonight’s game with a 2-1 record and a 2.04 ERA. He will face off against a struggling John Lannan, who has posted an 0-2 record with a 6.46 ERA so far this season.
The Braves are looking for a much needed win tonight after dropping two straight to the Washington Nationals and 7 of their last 8 games. Stay with us for in game updates.
Braves: 1 Nationals: 0
|Bot 9th:||Soriano in to close. Dukes strikes out. Willingham pops out to left. Belliard strikes out. Braves win, 1-0. Tough break for Jurrjens however.|
|Top 9th:||Diaz singles with one-out. Kotchman hits into a fielder’s choice. Schafer walks. Infante in to run for Kotchman. Hinckley on to pitch. Prado walks. Kelly Johnson draws a bases loaded walk. 1-0 Braves. Julian Tavarez strikes Escobar out on 3 pitches.|
|Bot 8th:||Zimmerman draws a two-out walk and Jurrjens is done. That’s 14 1/3 straight innings of work for him without one run of support from the offense. Gonzalez on to pitch. Strikeout to Adam Dunn. No decision for Jurrjens.|
|Top 8th:||Garrett Mock in to pitch for the Nats. 1-2-3 for the Braves in the inning.|
|Bot 7th:||Willingham doubles to lead off the inning. Sac bunt moves him to third. Two solid outs by the defense saves a run.|
|Top 7th:||0-0 game at the stretch. Second start in a row for Jurrjens to pitch a great game and just not getting the offensive backing.|
|Bot 6th:||One LOB for the Nats. No runs.|
|Top 6th:||Braves put a runner on base but no scoring. No run support for Jurrjens again.|
|Bot 5th:||Dukes singles to center to lead off the inning. Nats put two on base but a double play ends the inning.|
|Top 5th:||Top of the Braves lineup down 1-2-3.|
|Bot 4th:||Zimmerman leads of the inning with a double down the left field line. Dunn grounds out and moves Zimmerman to third. Defense manages to keep the run from scoring.|
|Top 4th:||Leadoff single for Brian McCann. Francoeur hits into a fielder’s choice. Kotchman with a two-out double into left. Francoeur to third. Intentional walk to Schafer to load the bases. Jurrjens strikes out to end the threat.|
|Bot 3rd:||Jurrjens responds with a 6-pitch 1-2-3 inning of his own.|
|Top 3rd:||1-2-3 inning for John Lannan.|
|Bot 2nd:||Dukes strikes out looking. Willingham walks. Belliard grounds into a fielder’s choice and advances to second on a throwing error by Yunel. Stranded there however.|
|Top 2nd:||Leadoff single for Jeff Francoeur. Kotchman draws a one-out walk. Schafer comes a foot short of a home run, but moves Francoeur over to third. Jurrjens grounds out to third. Once again, we need to plate leadoff base runners.|
|Bot 1st:||Nick Johnson with a one-out single. A couple of easy outs and Jurrjens is out of the inning.|
|Top 1st:||Kelly Johnson leads off the game with a single. Yunel grounds out, but advances KJ to second. Chipper strikes out looking. Slow grounder downs McCann. No production from the leadoff hit.|
Tags: Jair Jurrjens, John Lannan, Washington Nationals
Posted in Game Threads | No Comments »