Posts Tagged ‘Curacao


Atlanta Braves’ Jair Jurrjens: The Unassuming Ace

How can you deem a pitcher touting a 5-0 record and a 1.66 ERA underrated?
If you’re Braves hurler Jair Jurrjens, you may have beef.

No pitcher in baseball is as red-hot as Jurrjens is right now. The righty from Curacao finds himself among the game’s elite in most major pitching categories and has matched or out-pitched the class of the league.

In his latest winning effort on Saturday, Jurrjens took a perfect game into the sixth inning against the division rival Phillies, enroute to a 5-3 victory—his second win of the season against the National League’s best club.

Jurrjens, or JJ, as coined by his Braves teammates, also became the first Braves pitcher since Tom Glavine in 2000 to start a season 5-0 with a sub-2.00 ERA. He also improved to 5-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 11 career starts against Philadelphia—the lowest of any active pitcher with 50-plus innings against the Phillies.

When determining excellence on the mound, Jurrjens has been the epitome of just that for Atlanta this season. He has proven to be clutch against the league’s best—out-dueling not just the Phillies’ aces but also Milwaukee’s young stud Yovani Gallardo in a splendid performance on May 2.

Yet the 6’1”, 200-pound Braves sensation remains underrated and often undetected by mass media outlets. Jurrjens has flown under the radar the season, barely receiving recognition, let alone the brilliant accolades he deserves for downright dealing throughout the early portion of the 2011 campaign.

When discussing the elite class of pitchers in the National League, the names oft mentioned are Phillies hurlers Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, Marlins fireballer Josh Johnson or the Giants’ Tim Lincecum.

Yet, it is Jair Jurrjens who ranks second among all Major League pitchers in ERA (only three points behind the leader Johnson) and along with Cardinals sophomore phenom Jaime Garcia, still boasts an undefeated record in the Senior Circuit.

So why is the unassuming and baby-faced 25-year-old Jurrjens masking as silent thunder?

Chalk it up to a 2010 season marred by injury that may have placed Jurrjens on baseball’s backburner. Between a lingering hamstring injury in the early portion of 2010 and a torn meniscus in his knee down the stretch, the Braves chugged along without Jurrjens to claim the NL Wild Card.

But baseball pundits should have known better. In 2009, JJ not only put himself on the map in Atlanta but some would argue he emerged as the team’s MVP, posting a 14-10 record and sparkling 2.60 ERA—third-best in the National League. It was clear then that Jurrjens had the stuff and makeup to become one of the game’s most formidable hurlers.

Healthy again in 2011, Jurrjens has not only regained his 2009 form but according to many—he’s exceeded it. The small sample size of what we’ve seen from JJ this season is just an inkling of what could come for the very impressive albeit mild-mannered ace.

As Jair Jurrjens goes, so go the Braves.

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Jair Jurrjens to have sore right shoulder examined

The Atlanta Braves will be holding their collective breath as they await word on the health of one of their best pitchers. Braves starter Jair Jurrjens will travel to Atlanta later this week to have an MRI on his sore right shoulder.

Jurrjens reported to camp a week before pitchers and catchers were scheduled to arrive on Friday, expressing lingering soreness in his throwing shoulder. The 24-year-old hurler was examined by a Braves athletic trainer this week, who found Jurrjens’ rotator cuff and labrum in his shoulder to be structurally sound.

The team’s decision to have Jurrjens undergo an MRI seems to be a precautionary measure at this point and no cause for immediate concern. The Braves are hopeful that Jurrjens is just experiencing normal soreness and will be diagnosed with a simple case of tendinitis.

Jurrjens reported he felt a twinge in his shoulder when he flipped a ball underhanded in a recent game in his hometown of Curacao, Netherlands.

Despite being hampered by shoulder fatigue in the past, Jurrjens has responded well to a strengthening program, where he participates in specialized shoulder workouts early in the offseason.

Jurrjens, along with former Brave Javier Vazquez, were arguably the team’s co-aces last season. The Braves, who were expected to have one of the best rotations in baseball again this year, would suffer a severe blow to their staff if they were to lose Jurrjens for an extended period of time.

Jurrjens was 14-10 with a 2.60 ERA that was the third-lowest in the National League in 2009. He also played a pivotal role in the Braves’ late push for the NL Wild Card, going 4-1 with a minuscule 1.25 ERA in September, earning himself NL Pitcher of the Month honors.

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