The Baltimore Orioles rolled the dice a couple weeks ago by signing 27-year-old pitcher Jair Jurrjens after he was non-tendered by the Atlanta Braves. The 2012 season was a disaster for the young right-hander after several successful seasons in Atlanta’s starting rotation. Considering his age and the fact he has had success at the major league level before, Jurrjens was an attractive buy for Baltimore’s front office.
In his first full season in Major League Baseball, Jurrjens finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. He followed up on his rookie campaign in 2009 with one of his best efforts of his young career, finishing 14-10 with a 2.60 ERA in 215 innings pitched with 152 strikeouts. He also led the league with 34 starts that season and finished third in earned run average. During the 2011 season, he was named to the National League all star team.
2012 just seemed to never get going for Jurrjens. One of the main issues he had was with control. His strikeout to walk ratio dropped just over a point in 2012 compared to 2011. He finished 3-4 with a 6.89 ERA in 48.1 innings pitched with only 19 strikeouts and 18 walks.
After signing a one-year deal with the Orioles, he will have an opportunity to re-establish himself by working with pitching coach Rick Adair. The Orioles pitching staff made many strides last season finishing much higher in league rankings from the previous season. However, there is still room for improvement as the Orioles ranked 18th in strikeouts and 16th in batting average against.
Adding a potential workhorse like Jurrjens to the fold could make a huge difference this season in Baltimore. He’ll be competing with pitchers Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton and Steve Johnson among others for a spot in this year’s starting rotation. Manager Buck Showalter always makes it competitive for pitchers looking for a spot, so the young right-hander will be well-motivated to bring back his best stuff heading into spring training.