Jurrjens and Oswalt Return

Here is a look at some data for Jurrjens and Oswalt, who both returned to the majors last Friday night.

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Jair Jurrjens (11%, 21%) – Jurrjens started the season in the Braves rotation, but was sent down to the minors after 4 starts and a 9.37 ERA. While in AAA, he made 10 starts and struggled with 5.18 ERA, 4.7 K/9 and a 1.43 WHIP. Due to injuries with other Braves starting pitchers, he was forced back into their rotation. On Friday night, he had a good outing with 4 K, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 3 H and only 1 Run.

One of the quickest ways to see if he is the same type as he was previously is to look at his Pitchf/x values. First his fastball velocity is nearly the same as it was when he was previously in the majors this year:

He isn’t going to to be striking out a ton more batters.

I looked through quite a few of his Pitchf/x stats and he definitely has a more refined and consistent approach compared to the start of the season. Here are some some charts from Friday’s game and ones from April 13th, his 2nd longest outing of the season. First, here is his velocity charts through the innings:

On Friday, his speeds slowly decline throughout the game at a nice steady rate. Back in April, he was increasing and decreasing his speeds by noticeable chunks during the game.

The inconsistency can be seen by the grouping of pitches when looking at speeds and spins from the two dates:

His pitches from Friday are grouped closer together for more consistent results (i.e. he knows where the ball is going).

Reading some of his post game comments, he believes his knees were pain free to start the season, but he lacked strength in them as stated here:

“The knee hasn’t had pain, I just never built the muscle like I wanted to,” [Jurrjens] said.

I have never been a huge fan of Jurrjens, but it does look like he is pitching better than he did early in the season. I am just not sure what level of “better” he will reach. He may be worth a chance to take a flier on for those teams desperate for pitching.

Roy Oswalt (66%, 51%) – Roy, who also threw on Friday, pitched decent allowing one run on 9 H, 6 Ks and 1 BB. Looking over his Pitchf/x numbers, two points stick out.

First, I was a little worried that he would not have great stamina throughout the game. I was wrong. He kept his speeds up nicely as seen here:

Basically his fastball, on average, only dropped 1 MPH over the course of the game.

The second item I noticed was that his average fastball speed was down.

The range in speeds were similar to a stretch last year he had with the Phillies. During that stretch in May and June, he had a 4.06 ERA, 4.3 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. Not exactly great numbers. Also, those numbers were in the NL, vice the AL, He will likely see worse results in the AL.

Besides the lower fastball speed, he will be pitching half his games in Rangers Ballpark. It has not been kind to pitchers over the years. The ballpark’s 2011 Basic Park Factor was the 2nd highest in the majors (Coors Field in Denver was #1). This effect can be seen by the struggles Rangers pitchers have seen at home compared to when they pitch on the road

2011
Home: 4.37 ERA
Away: 3.19 ERA

2012
Home: 3.83 ERA
Away: 3.29 ERA

On top of pitching half his games in one of the best offensive parks in the league, he will be pitching there during the hottest part of the season. More and more fly ball outs will turn into HRs as the temperature increases.

Oswalt looks to be a bit of an intriguing pitcher. Currently, his talent level is not exactly known. He looks to get plenty of Wins by being on the Rangers. His WHIP and ERA may suffer a bit when throwing at home. Right now, I would look at spot starting him against weaker teams at home or when the Rangers are on the road.

Thanks to BrooksBaseball.net for the game data.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.


9 Responses to “Jurrjens and Oswalt Return”

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  1. Norris Division says:

    Would you drop Haren for Oswalt?

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  2. I generally agree that Oswalt will likely be a spot-starter in most mixed leagues due to age/Texas.

    That said, I’d be skeptical about drawing velocity conclusions after one start. About 3 weeks ago he was reported to be sitting around 88-90 in AAA, so he’s picked up 2-3 mph as he has built arm strength back up. It’s not unreasonable for him to tick up a couple more mph to the 93-94 mph range which would be closer to late 2010 or late 2011 in terms of FB velocity.

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  3. Jesus Loves Yu says:

    And then there’s the pitching braintrust at Texas–Ryan, Maddux and Maddux–that Oswalt, already a solid pitcher/dude has full access to. What stat do we use to analyze that? I’m taking a flier on him–think he’s being underrated as yet. So far so good.

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  4. antoine says:

    How does Oswalt stack up against Dice-K and Floyd?

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  5. strategy ace says:

    Floyd > Oswalt??? Oswalt at least has the potential for upside. Floyd while consistant is still…Floyd.

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