Right now, the fifth spot in the Baltimore Orioles starting rotation is up for grabs. Jair Jurrjens wasn’t dominant in his first start with the Orioles this Spring, but no one was expecting him to be. However, the radar gun showed that Jurrjens took his off-season preparation seriously as it showed 93 mph. Last season, his fastball, on average, was clocked around 88 mph.
Historically, Jurrjens has not done well in Spring Training. Last season with the Atlanta Braves was undoubtedly his worst as a professional. Injury may be to blame, but conditioning goes a long way to prevent wear and tear.
As we take a look at his Spring Training statistics from 2012, we see that he gave up 17 earned runs in 26.1 innings pitched, and allowed opponents to hit .303 against him. Then came the regular season, and Jurrjens continued to struggle as he posted a career-worst 6.89 ERA, as he gave up 37 earned runs in just 48.1 innings pitched.
Yes, I understand it is just Spring Training. However, for some pitchers, this may the most important part of the season for them. It is not a surprise when comparing poor spring training performances to regular season struggles for Jurrjens.
Now take a look at 2011, and you will notice a positive correlation with Jurrjens Spring numbers and his regular season statistics In 2011, Jurrjens went 13-6 to go along with a 2.96 ERA, while giving up just 50 earned runs in 150 innings pitched. The Spring Training preceding that breakout year was no different. Jurrjens held batters to a .231 average while posting a 3.43 ERA.
If Jurrjens keeps the trend going and performs well this Spring, Orioles manager Buck Showalter is going to look like a genius once again. Jurrjens takes on the Minnesota Twins today at 1:05PM.
Corey Righter is a columnist/writer for Rant Sports, primarily covering the Baltimore Orioles. You can follow him on Twitter @Mrrighter