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Obviously Unexpected: Atlanta Braves Option Jair Jurrjens to Minors

The Atlanta Braves optioned Jair Jurrjens to the minors after last night’s loss and terrible outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jurrjens was roughed up against the Dodgers. He lasted 3+ innings and allowed 9 hits, 1 BB, 5 ER and 0 Ks. Overall this season, he is 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA, 2.45 WHIP, and a .411 BAA. He has allowed 17 runs in 16.1 IP across 4 starts.

The decision by the Braves to demote Jurrjens was surprising. It is definitely the right thing to do. The Braves cannot afford to have him try and figure things out when he has continued to put the Braves in holes or blow big leads.

What baffles me is how many times the Braves allowed Derek Lowe to pitch through his struggles the past two years. Last year was especially painful when the Braves missed the playoffs by one game.

What is obvious is that Jurrjens is not the same pitcher that he was for the first half of last season, or any time with the Braves before the 2nd half of last year. He doesn’t look comfortable when he is pitching. He looks like he doesn’t trust his stuff. Last night was especially alarming. His pitches had little to no movement on them and he has lost the control that helped him in the past.

The drop in his velocity has been talked about by many as an alarming problem. His velocity on his fastball has dropped from the 93-95 MPH range to 88-90 MPH. The luxury of having him pitch in the minors is he may be able to work on his pitches, regain his control and learn to pitch with lower velocity if needed. He could also regain confidence or overcome a mental barrier that he seems to be pitching with.

The luxury that the Atlanta Braves have is their pitching depth. Tim Hudson will be activated from the disabled list this weekend and he will take Jurrjens’ spot in the rotation. Meanwhile, rookie Randall Delgado will stay with the team and keep learning in the majors.