Jurrjens needs to regain confidence

Baseball is a results-oriented business.  

It’s tough getting to the big leagues and even tougher to stay.

Past performances are no guarantees for the future.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the Atlanta Braves optioned Jair Jurrjens to AAA late Monday night.  

An All-Star last year, JJ was arguably the best NL pitcher in the first half with 12 wins and a 1.87 ERA.  His year ended in September with right knee problems, and he didn’t pitch again the rest of the season.

Flash forward to 2012.  After struggling all spring, JJs command troubles carried over into his first four starts.  In 16 1/3 innings he allowed an astounding 30 hits, 5 HR, and a 9.37 ERA.

Clearly something isn’t right.  According to mPitch f/X data, his velocity is down 4-5 mph.  Of greater concern is location — too many laser straight fastballs left up in the hitting zone.

General Manager Frank Wren believes the issues are mechanical, not medical.  JJ has said his knee is fine.

He’ll get a few starts in Gwinnett to try to get some confidence and success back.  Once he does, Getting back into the Braves rotation figures to be as logical a choice as it was to remove him.

Meanwhile, Tim Hudson (after an off day Thursday) should start this weekend against the Pirates after he makes a final AAA start tonight for Gwinnett.  Hard to believe, but this is already Hudson’s seventh season in a Braves uniform.  Acquired for Juan Cruz, Dan Meyer and Charles Thomas in 2004, Tim has made 195 starts.  His record?  89-58 with a 3.57 ERA.  The most amazing Tim Hudson stat is this:  When given a 3-run lead he’s 125-2.  The way the Braves are scoring runs, bet on those numbers improving too.

Game 2 tonight vs the Dodgers.  Mike Minor will try to be the first pitcher to beat LA at home this year.  The Dodgers are 13-4 this year, and 7-0 at home.  While Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have earned most of the headlines, last night it was James Loney, Juan Uribe and AJ Ellis who did most of the damage, with 8 hits, 4 runs, and 5 RBIs.

 LA’s good play is a carryover from last season’s All-Star break.  Since then, LA is 54-32.  Minor though should be up to the challenge after his best MLB start against Arizona.  In 21.1 IP, Minor has struck out 19, walked 5, and has allowed just 7 ER.  Last year, he received a ND in September, allowing just 1 run in 6 IP at Turner Field.

Lastly, one of the rare treats we enjoy is our annual trek to LA and the chance to say hello to Dodger broadcasting greats Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrin.  This is Vin’s 63rd year behind  the microphone, and Jaime’s 54th, all with the Dodgers.  They are two men of incomparable grace, wit, humility, and talent.  It truly is an honor to be in “the fraternity” so to speak.

So, whether you watch our TV feed, or the Dodgers’, or listen en Espanol to Jaime, I hope you’ll “pull up a chair wherever you are” and join us for games 2 and 3 here in LA.  Thanks for watching!

Until next time …