Hello again everyone from once again sunny Southeast Michigan. Of course, it’s going to be in the mid-90′s for the holiday weekend, as the “Rays Of Summer” make one more stand.
Speaking of making one more stand, the question with Jair Jurrjens may well be can he make any more starts this season. After hearing Frank Wren being interviewed tonight during the Braves broadcast, I’m honestly not optimistic.
These developments came as a surprise to me. I knew that JJ was still bothered by the knee, but he had been quoted after his last start as saying that the knee wasn’t a problem. After his bullpen session today, I guess he changed his mind.
He’s now saying that something in the knee feels like it pinches whenever he tries to push off the rubber. He then lifts off the rubber almost subconsciously, resulting in less power on his pitches. Combined with the lack of confidence, it has been mostly brutal for Jurrjens since the All-Star break, as evidenced by his 5.88 ERA during that span.
As I’ve said here numerous times, his velocity has been way down all season, even when he was effective in the first half. Fangraphs data supports this, as his velocity has dipped from 91 last year to 89 before the break to 88 now. 88 and straight for a pitcher used to dominating hitters with a fastball that would hit 94 when he asked it to just doesn’t work.
The plan at this point is for JJ to see another doctor in Colorado this weekend, skipping his next start, which will likely be taken by Randall Delgado on Sunday. If no damage is found, the Braves hope that rest will do the trick. However, when probed about it on the broadcast, Wren chose to talk about the Braves hoping to get Hanson back for the playoffs. He seemed, at least to me, to be speaking of JJ in terms of next season. I admit to not having a transcript of the discussion, but my initial takeaway was that Wren was not convinced that JJ would pitch again this season.
While losing JJ would be a major hit, the Braves are one of the few teams that could survive a hit of that magnitude this late in the season. If Hanson comes back, as Wren seemed optimistic would happen, and if Lowe continues to pitch well, that would give the Braves five quality starters to choose from for the postseason (Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy, and Mike Minor). That would probably rank as an advantage against anyone but Philadelphia.
I truly hope that I heard Wren wrong. I would very much like to see what you heard, and whether you agree with my assessment.