Tag: Jair Jurrjens

The Best and Worst Case Scenarios for Jair Jurrjens as a Baltimore Oriole

Signing an oft-injured pitcher to a slightly over-priced, incentive-laden deal?

The Orioles have made it a side-business over the past few years, inking such pitchers as Justin Duchscherer, Dana Eveland, Randy Wolf, Josh Rupe and Jeremy Accardo.

Some of the deals have worked in the Orioles favor, such as the veteran Wolf, who tossed some valuable innings down the stretch of last year’s wild card run. Most, however, are like Duchscherer, who never even made it to the mound in a regular season game.

So, why is there excitement (albeit tempered) among O’s fans tonight as the team dives in with yet another wounded Bird, this time in the form of Jair Jurrjens?

Well, for starters, Jurrjens offers something none of those other names above did.


At 26, it’s reasonable to think that Jurrjens‘ best years are still ahead of him, and let’s be honest, he’s already had some pretty darn good ones. Fourteen wins, a 2.60 ERA and more than 200 innings in 2009. Thirteen victories and a 2.96 ERA in just 23 starts in 2011.

No current O’s starter can lay claim to a season as impressive as either of those campaigns.

Still, there has to be a reason the O’s were able to get the right-hander for so cheap, right? One and a half million for one year’s work, with the potential for $4 million with incentives. That’s a contract in line with a talented reliever, not a potential ace.

So, what to make of the Jurrjens‘ signing?

Let’s take a look at what the best and worst case scenarios could be for both the O’s and Jurrjens, as a member of a Baltimore franchise looking to make back-to-back trips to the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades.

Begin Slideshow

Is There Any Hope for Jair Jurrjens to Regain All-Star Form with the Orioles?

The Baltimore Orioles are taking a chance on 26-year-old right-hander Jair Jurrjens, and there’s a fair chance that it will pay off in a big way for them.

But first Jurrjens has to be fixed. And for that, the Orioles are going to require a big toolbox. 

As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported, the Orioles have agreed to pay Jurrjens a $1.5 million base salary. His deal also includes incentives that could make the contract worth $4 million. If he were to rediscover the All-Star form he showed in 2011, he’d have little trouble earning that extra cash.

But there are darn good reasons for why it feels like Jurrjens‘ All-Star selection in 2011 feels like it was eons ago. He’s not the same pitcher as he was back then in more ways than one.

Jurrjens posted a 6.89 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP in 11 appearances (10 starts) for the Atlanta Braves in 2012. The main thing holding him down was a decrease in velocity, as his fastball came in at an average of less than 89 miles per hour. It was coming in at an average of over 89 miles per hour in 2011 and at over 91 miles per hour back in 2010 (see FanGraphs).

It’s possible to get by with an 88-89 mile-per-hour fastball, but Jurrjens certainly wasn’t. Per PITCHf/x, opposing batters hit a staggering .383 off Jurrjens‘ fastball in 2012 after hitting .218 off of it in 2011.

Pretty much everything else Jurrjens threw in 2012 got hit as well, including his second-favorite pitch: the changeup. Opposing hitters hit it at a .312 clip after hitting it at a .244 clip in 2011.

Jurrjens‘ velocity problems played a role in the diminished effectiveness of his changeup, as there was only about six mile-per-hour difference between his fastball and his changeup. When he was still throwing hard, the difference between his fastball and changeup was closer to 10 miles per hour.

However, the Orioles shouldn’t just be concerned with finding a way to replace Jurrjens‘ lost velocity and then leaving it at that. His pitching style could also use some tweaks, most notably the way he attacks both left- and right-handed hitters with his fastball.

Courtesy of FanGraphs, here are Jurrjens‘ fastball heat maps from the 2012 season, which show where he most often attacked hitters:

This is from the catcher’s perspective, so imagine the hitter on the right side of the box on the lefty heat map and the hitter on the left side of the box for the righty heat map.

You can see that Jurrjens rarely bothered to attack left-handed hitters on the inside part of the plate with his fastball. He stayed away from the inside part of the plate against right-handed hitters as well, living primarily over the middle of the plate and away. 

Jurrjens fooled neither lefties nor righties in 2012. Left-handers compiled a .943 OPS against him. Right-handers managed a .954 OPS. Both slugged over .540 against him.

Whether or not Jurrjens regains his velocity, the Orioles should want him to change the way he approaches hitters. He needs to have lefties and righties looking for his four-seamer on both sides of the plate rather than just one.

Jurrjens can further help himself by dusting off his two-seam fastball. He rarely used it in 2012, meaning hitters knew that anything hard was going to stay straight and end up in certain areas.

On the flip side, Jurrjens went to his two-seamer very often in 2011, and here’s where he put it:

You can see that he wasn’t afraid to use his two-seamer inside to lefties, an eternally useful trick for right-handed pitchers. Against righties, he was able to put it at the bottom of the zone on both sides of the plate fairly consistently.

That surely played a part in his 42.0 ground-ball percentage in 2011, which tumbled to 38.7 percent in 2012 while his HR/FB rate went from 8.0 to 11.0.

If the Orioles push for Jurrjens to reintroduce his two-seamer while also pushing him to be bolder with his four-seam fastball, they’ll have created a pitcher with more dimensions than the one who got routinely shelled in 2012. This alone would help him bounce back.

If Jurrjens finds some of his old velocity again, then the Orioles will also have a pitcher with a solid fastball and, by extension, a usable changeup.

Finding velocity again after it’s been lost is no easy chore, to be sure. Baltimore’s best hope is that Jurrjens‘ velocity was suffering because of health issues that have since cleared up.

This may indeed be the explanation knowing Jurrjens‘ recent history with nagging injuries. And the bright side for the Orioles, such as it is, is that Jurrjens‘ arm hasn’t been where the injuries have been located. His recent problems have all been with his legs, specifically his right leg. 

That, of course, would be Jurrjens‘ push-off leg. If he was feeling pain or was worried about feeling pain in his right leg, he may have been putting less force into his delivery to home plate, which would be a reasonable explanation for some of his lost velocity.

It’s just as possible that Jurrjens‘ delivery itself is what’s been hurting his legs these past two years. And if so, that’s where Baltimore director of pitching development, Rick Peterson, may be able to help Jurrjens the most.

Peterson specializes in biomechanics, and his expertise could help him pinpoint a crucial flaw in Jurrjens‘ pitching mechanics. By fixing it, he could help prevent further wear and tear on Jurrjens‘ legs.

Peterson’s presence alone should give Orioles fans hope that the club’s newest member will end up being a productive player. Peterson knows pitching as well as anyone, and he proved as much for the umpteenth time in 2012 by helping to turn the likes of Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman and even Steve Johnson into effective hurlers.

In short, Jurrjens needs a pretty major repair job, but he’s landed with the perfect organization to carry it out.


If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.

Follow zachrymer on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

San Francisco Giants: 5 Offseason Moves Team Should Have Made

The San Francisco Giants should have made five moves this offseason in addition to re-signing free agents Jeremy Affeldt, Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro, and extending the contract of Santiago Casilla.

A big splash for a free agent like Josh Hamilton or Nick Swisher to improve left field would have made sense. However, once the Giants completed the task of bringing back their key free agents, the budget did not allow for another big ticket item.

Thus, the additional moves that the Giants should have made are not as exciting as signing a marquee free agent, but they still would have significantly improved the team.

Let’s take a deeper look at each of the moves the Giants should have made in order of their significance for the 2013 team.

(All contractual data in this article is taken from Cot’s Contracts and all statistics are from ESPN.)

Begin Slideshow

MLB Trade Scenarios: Top Starters Likely to Be Available at the Deadline

The MLB trade deadline brings excitement each summer as contenders try to improve their team while pretenders look to the future.

The saying in baseball is that you can’t have too much pitching, so starting pitchers are always at high demand around the deadline.

An elite starting pitcher can be the difference in reaching the postseason or making a run at a World Series Championship.

Cliff Lee was traded at the deadline to the Texas Rangers a few years ago and led them all the way to the World Series.

There doesn’t appear to be a pitcher on Lee’s level, but there are good pitchers that should become available by the deadline.

Let’s take a look at some of the top starting pitchers who could help your baseball team get to the next level.

Begin Slideshow

Were the Atlanta Braves Right to Demote Jair Jurrjens?

Jair Jurrjens isn’t getting any better. Since suffering a knee injury in the second half of the 2011 season, Jurrjens has looked uncomfortable on the mound has has vastly underperformed for an Atlanta Braves team that needed him to be one of the consistent starters in their rotation.

So far in 2012, Jurrjens has four starts and a 9.37 ERA which is the highest of any Braves pitcher. He has allowed 30 hits and 17 earned runs in 16.1 innings, and his pitches have looked flat with no movement to deceive hitters. Tim Hudson is due to come up from triple-A Gwinnett within a few weeks, and the starting rotation needed to be fiddled with to find room for him. 

The Braves had hinted that they would be sending Randall Delgado, a young Braves right-hander who has two wins in three starts this year. Delgado, although his ERA is 5.74, has looked good in his three starts this season, and he had only started one Major League ballgame before 2012, so he is still learning on the job.

The Braves have provided plenty of run support to Delgado, and every other starter for that matter, and he has been able to stunt the opposing lineup long enough for the Braves to build up an insurmountable number of runs against the opposing pitcher. 

Delgado has certainly looked more under control than Jurrjens this season, and that is probably the main reason that the Braves front office decided to send Jurrjens down to triple-A Gwinnett after another lackluster start in Los Angeles where he gave up nine hits and five earned runs in three innings of work.

Jurrjens was in Cy Young form in the first half of 2011, and was selected to the first All Star game of his career. He ended up recording 13 wins for the Braves in 2011 and, despite a knee injury that landed him on the disabled list and a start in Gwinnett, he was expected to be one of the Braves’ solid arms to rely on this season. 

Jurrjens has been dependable in 2012, but the Braves can only depend on him for losses and a huge deficit to overcome within the first four innings of games.

The fact is, Delgado has been far more consistent than Jurrjens, and Delgado has much more confidence in the rotation right now. It makes sense for the Braves to invest starts and instruction on Delgado over Jurrjens for the moment because Delgado has been the more reliable arm. If he can learn how to pitch in certain situations and start putting up some one-two-three innings, he can be a solid starter in the Braves’ rotation.

Jurrjens will look to regain his Cy Young form in the minors for the time being. Whether the Braves will look to groom him for a trade later in the year is still not clear, but as of right now, the rotation is better off with Jurrjens in Gwinnett. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Atlanta Braves: Standing Pat May Be Braves’ Best Option

The Atlanta Braves are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now, having won nine of their last 10 games.

And, they’ve done it with a combination of pitching and hitting.

With their recent success, and the early-season questions of needing to acquire another outfielder to take the place of Martin Prado, I’m wondering if it’s best for the Braves to stand pat with their lineup.

Currently, I believe the Braves don’t have to make a move since the offense and defense are performing well.

After an offseason in which they tried to trade away Prado and pitcher Jair Jurrjens, the Braves saw nothing interesting on the trade front, bringing both back for this season.

This alone caused crying among Braves’ fans who felt that general manager Frank Wren needed to make a move to improve the lineup.

With the 0-4 start, many were sitting back saying the same things due to the lack of offense.

Then, the bats came alive in the fifth game of the season against the Astros. Since then, nothing has been different at the plate, with the Braves getting the best of opponents’ pitchers.

Those fans who were calling for a move to be made have been silenced and the offense is clicking. And, there’s an old saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Well, it’s not broke right now, so there’s no reason to fix it.

Sure, it would be nice if Dan Uggla could display more power, but we all know he struggles at the beginning of the season.

It would also be nice if Chipper Jones could stay healthy and be in the lineup more than he has, but Juan Francisco hasn’t been a disappointment in his place, so there should really be no complaints there. Although, there is no arguing that Jones is a lot better than Francisco.

At some point before the trading deadline or during the offseason, this subject is going to be approached again.

And, eventually, there’s going to be a move that has to be made because guys like Jurrjens and Prado aren’t going to be under contract much longer. Tim Hudson is also getting up there in age, and guys like Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado can’t stay in the minor leagues that much longer.

Sure, Delgado is in the Braves’ rotation right now, but will be sent back to Triple-A once Hudson gets back. But you can’t keep those guys from the big leagues that much longer. They’ve earned big-league opportunities.

So, the lineup and rotation are going to have to be addressed at some point. But now is not the time.

Now is the time to go with what is working, and if that keeps certain guys out of the lineup or rotation, then that’s what it means.

One thing is for sure, the trading deadline and this offseason will be very interesting.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

5 Reasons the Braves Should Not Make a Trade Before the Deadline

I have recently heard talk of the Braves considering making a trade before the non-waiver deadline on July 31st.

However, I do not think a trade would be helpful to the current situation the Braves are in.

Sure, it would be nice to have a center fielder who could hit, but there are drawbacks to this.

In this article, I will address these drawbacks, and discuss the five main reasons I believe a trade would do harm to the Braves.

Begin Slideshow

MLB 2011: Ranking the Top Seven Starting Pitching Rotations in Baseball

It’s no secret that a solid rotation is key for success. An offense, no matter how formidable, can be silenced by effective pitching, keeping the team in the game.

Closing in on two months into the 2011 MLB season, a distinct group of starting pitching staffs has risen to the forefront as being capable of taking their teams to the playoffs. 

To be a truly fearsome rotation, a team needs five established starters who can all deliver quality outings reliably. Looking back at the 2010 season, we saw the San Francisco Giants (who made this list with almost the same rotation) ride their starters all the way to their World Series title. 

Without further ado, let’s look at the top seven starting pitching staffs in baseball a third of the way through the season. 

Begin Slideshow

Atlanta Braves: Could Jair Jurrjens Be the Difference-Maker in Playoff Race?

After looking at Braves starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens’ numbers prior the start of last season, many would have slated him as the team’s No. 2 starter, right below Tim Hudson, after two impressive campaigns in both 2008 and 2009.

In 2008, his first season with the Braves, Jurrjens went 13-10 in 31 starts while posting a 3.68 ERA with 139 strikeouts. He improved his numbers in 2009, going 14-10 with a 2.60 ERA and 152 strikeouts.  Entering 2010, Jurrjens was a highly touted starter with a bright future for Atlanta.

But last season did not go how Jurrjens had planned.

While pitching against the Padres in their home opener on April 12, Jurrjens allowed eight earned runs on eight hits in 3.1 innings pitched. His numbers continued to fluctuate throughout the early season, as Jurrjens spent time on the Disabled List in May for a left hamstring strain. He continued an injury plagued season, missing time for his hamstring, a sore shoulder and a jammed thumb.

He ended the season with a 7-6 record and a 4.64 ERA, numbers that improved thanks in part to a strong second half of the season.

In October, Jurrjens underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a minor meniscus tear he suffered in late September that caused him to miss his final three starts of the regular season, a fitting end to a season Jurrjens would surely like to forget.

Now, with the Braves entering 2011 as viable candidates for the NL East crown, Jurrjens is a key to the team’s success. If he can stay healthy and return to his 2008-2009 form, the Braves starting rotation can likely match up well with any other team in the majors, Philadelphia included.

In Jurrjens’ last outing this spring, a start against the New York Mets, he went six strong innings, getting six ground ball outs from the first six Mets he faced. His fastball was regularly hitting 89 mph, topping out just under his 92-93 mph average.

If we’ve learned anything from Jurrjens so far this spring, it’s that he seems to have regained his ability to command the lower half of the strike zone, something that will be key to his success in 2011.

Jurrjens has reported minor discomfort in his shoulders, though nothing like his pain last spring. He attributes 2011’s stiffness to too much weight lifting—something he picked up to increase his arm strength this offseason.

If the Braves plan to be successful in 2011, they’ll need Jurrjens to be a solid No. 4 starter, something he is very capable of and likely to do throughout the season. He has three scheduled starts remaining in spring training, consequently giving him more time to work out the kinks of last season. Look for Jurrjens to go 12-8 this season with an ERA just over three as the Braves win the East.


Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Minnesota Twins 2011: 5 Trades That Help Get the Twins To October Baseball

The Twins haven’t won a World Series since the 1991 team beat the Bobby Cox led Braves. Ever since then it has been quite a rocky road for the team in the Twin Cities. In the playoffs, they have gone 6-21 since 2002 and 0-9 since 2004. Their most hated postseason opponents are clearly the New York Yankees, who have eliminated them the last two times the Twins have made the playoffs (2009 and 2010).

The last two years, it should be noted that the Twins weren’t 100 percent healthy going into the playoffs. They were without their MVP first baseman Justin Morneau in 2009 and 2010 and were also without All-Star closer Joe Nathan in 2010.

While the 2011 team looks to be quite the same as the team from last year, they will still need to add another ace quality pitcher to the rotation with Fransisco Liriano and Carl Pavano. They might also look at some more quality bats.  

Begin Slideshow

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress