It was a classic case of why we don’t take early season stats seriously. Entering his fifth start of the season on April 29, Jair Jurrjens sported a 5.48 ERA. He hadn’t pitched particularly poorly, but did have one rough outing that made his overall performance seem a bit worse. He didn’t help matters in that fifth start, as he allowed a three-run homer in the first before leaving the game with a strained hamstring. He hit a snag during his recovery, and ended up missing two full months. The rest appears to have done him some good, as he’s been excellent since returning on June 30.
We can see some pretty stark differences in Jurrjens pre-injury and Jurrjens post-injury. For starters, here’s his velocity graph:
It looks like his first and third starts were at pre-2010 levels, while his starts at San Diego, New York, and then St. Louis were way down. The St. Louis start is understandably lower than the rest, since he was probably pitching through hamstring woes in the first. It does appear, however, that the Atlanta gun might be a tad hot. The four highest-reaching bars on the chart are all starts at home. Last night, when pitching at home, he maxed at 94 while averaging 91.
We can see plenty of other changes in Jurrjens from earlier in the season, even during his better starts. Most notably, we see big changes in his strand and strikeout rates.
This is nothing but good news for the Braves. While Jurrjens was out of the rotation the team went on a tear, moving atop the NL East standings and even creating a bit of a cushion. Now with Jurrjens back in the rotation they’re that much stronger. ZiPS projects him to pitch 120.7 more innings this season, procuing a 3.95 ERA against a 4.10 FIP. That will fit perfectly in the Braves’ rotation.
When we eventually look at Jurrjens’ season in retrospect this off-season, we probably won’t remove those April starts in which he skewed his season numbers. After all, it’s not like those games didn’t happen. They did, and they contributed to the Braves’ slow start. But he’s also contributing to their current winning ways, and figures to continue doing so for the rest of the season.
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