It was just last off-season, December 2011 to be precise, when the Atlanta Braves and the Baltimore Orioles were discussing a possible trade involving their “star” starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens and super-utility everyday player Martin Prado in exchange for Adam Jones. My how that non-trade by Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette turned out to be the best decision of his just starting tenure with the team, as Jurrjens went on to battle injuries and ineffectiveness for the entire 2012 season while Jones earned himself a contract extension with a career year.
How much of Jurrjens poor performance this past season have to do with him being injured and is he even fully healed from a knee injury, and the ensuing surgery, from 2010?
There was talk that Jurrjens may not be able to sustain the level of success he had as a rookie in 2008 – he pitched to a 13-10 record with a 3.68 ERA over 188.1 innings of work (31 starts) – but he went on to have an even more impressive season in 2009. He posted a 14-10 record with a 2.60 ERA over 215 innings of work in 34 starts. Talk about proving your doubters wrong, at least for the time being.
Jurrjens had some high expectations placed on him heading into the 2010 season, most significantly was that he was being expected to anchor the Braves rotation for the foreseeable future right up there with the likes of Tim Hudson. What happened instead was that he was only able to make 20 starts that season and finished with a 7-6 record and a 4.64 ERA before being shut down due to a torn meniscus in his right knee, which he had surgery on to repair that October.
He then began the 2011 season on the disabled list but was still able to make 23 starts and compile a 13-6 record with a 2.96 ERA over 152 innings of work. It appeared that Jurrjens was back to his dominant form and would be there to help anchor the Braves starting rotation once again.
Unfortunately he dealt with a series of “bumps and bruises”, some soreness pertaining to his right knee as well as a groin strain, and pitched to the tune of a 6.89 ERA over 48.1 innings of work – the Braves basically sent him down to Triple-A to “figure it out” which he just wasn’t able to do.
So again, I ask – how much of his poor performance is due to injury and, if healthy, could he return to his dominant self in 2013 if given the chance?
It’s something I think would be worth finding out on an incentive laden one-year, prove you’re value, type of contract that his agent – Scott Boras – will likely pursue once he is officially non-tendered.