A Look at Braves Pitcher Jair Jurrjens
A few years ago a pitcher named Johan Santana was having a rough start. Through May he was 2-3 with six no-decisions. His ERA was 5.61. By the end of the season he improved (to say the least). He finished at 20-6 with an ERA of 2.61 and won the Cy Young award. I was in one of many fantasy leagues that year that saw Santana sent to waivers in late May or early June.
At the time it might have been hard to keep him. He was pitching well until he hit the later innings. He was racking up the strikeouts, but something still was off. But for those smart enough to look closer at his numbers, he easily became the greatest pickup of the year in many fantasy leagues.
The moral of that story is simple: wins is not the best category to judge pitchers. Neither is ERA.
With that in mind, we take a look this week at the Braves' Jair Jurrjens. The 22-year-old is 10-6 with a 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts as of Aug. 4. He's pretty good. But just how good is he? Is he the product of strong run support, or should his record be better? Is he a future ace or someone with an outstanding defense behind him. Let's take a deeper look.
Jurrjens is having a decent season if you just look at wins and losses. But there are some interesting games here. He has five no-decisions on his record this season. The Braves went 3-2 during those games. In three of those games he gave up less than three earned runs. Two of those games turned into wins. On the other hand, two of the five games were bad days at the ballpark. Against the Reds, Jurrjens gave up six runs in 4.1 innings. His previous outing was also less than stellar. He gave up eight hits in 4.2 innings to the Diamondbacks. Finally, in one of the two losses during those no-decisions Jurrjens gave up a single run on two hits in seven innings.
So adjusting for those five games, his record is more like 13-7. Not too bad. By the way, in all three of the wins he pitched very well, while only one of the losses was a bad day. That's why his record changes on a 3-1 basis. The fifth game, a 3-2 loss to Washington could go either way. You can blame him for not pitching better or the team for not getting a few more wins. It's a circular argument.
The final word: He's better than the numbers show.
On to that ERA of 3.06. In 21 starts, he's had five games where he gave up four runs or more, only one of which was under six innings of work. He's pitched in 132.1 innings and averaging 6 1/3 innings a start. Not too bad.
The final word: Jurrjens is a solid starter that doesn't mind racking up innings as a youngster.
Strikeouts is a similar story. He's averaging about 4.5 Ks a game. What else is there to say? He struck out seven batters in a game twice and eight batters once. He's making it hard for batters to figure him out.
The final word: Opposing batters are only hitting .245 off of him.
So how good is Jair? Pretty good, given he's on a team that's on it's way down when it comes to pitching. The Braves have had bullpen problems all year, but Jurrjens continues to have quality starts. He walks a batter every 2.86 innings, as opposed to Santana's ridiculous one per 3.75 innings. If he continues to pitch well, he'll be a mainstay in the Braves rotation and could help them for years to come. He has good control and almost always gives the Braves a chance to win.
By Joe Schulman
Joe Schulman can be reached at schulmanwriter @ gmail.com
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