Jurrjens’ decline has magnified velocity drop

After surrendering three homers and getting battered by the Nationals for the third time in the past six weeks,  Jair Jurrjens stood in front of his locker Tuesday night and said his right knee is fine.  But at the same time, Jurrjens indicated the knee is still causing him to experience some hesitance.  <p>

“The knee is fine,” Jurrjens said. “I just need to clear my mind up and start trusting it again.”

This seemed to be the most telling line delivered after Jurrjens allowed the Nationals six earned runs and eight hits in six innings.

Jurrjens missed the final two weeks of last year’s regular season because of a torn meniscus in his right knee.  The ailment was  that repaired via arthroscopic surgery in October and all seemed fine until the beginning of this month when he exited a third consecutive disappointing outing and revealed he did not feel he had regained all of his strength in his leg.

There have been reasons for concern during each of the three starts Jurrjens has made since returning from the All-Star break.  Yes, this includes last week’s Houdini act against the Cubs.  Now the 25-year-old hurler is admitting that he feels he has been hesitant and unable to trust his body through his delivery.

When Jurrjens was posting a National League-best 1.87 ERA before the All-Star break, it was easy to ignore the signs that would have indicated he was not necessarily pitching at full strength.  But as he has posted a 5.86 ERA in his seven starts since the break and surrendered nine home runs in his past 36 1/3 innings, the 25-year-old right-hander has certainly brought attention to the fact that his velocity has been down throughout this season.

With assistance from baseball-reference.com, brooksbaseball.netFanGraphs.com  and PITCHf/x, we get a sense of the difference Jurrjens has realized with the velocity of both his fastball and slider this year.

FanGraphs.com shows the average velocity of Jurrjens’ fastball from 2007-10 was 91.55 mph.     Through his first 23 starts this year, his fastball has averaged 89.1 mph.   His highest average fastball velocity during any one game this year was 91.01 mph  — set May 2, in his fourth start of the season.

In fact his fastball has averaged 90 mph or better in just four starts, with the most recent being his June 19 outing against the Rangers.

Concerns regarding the velocity of his slider seemed pretty minimal until he experienced an even greater decrease since the All-Star break.   The average velocity of Jurrjens’ slider entering this year was 80.23 mph.   This year it sits at 79.19 mph.

Before plotting where Jurrjens’ velocity has stood at certain points this season, it should be reiterated that his velocity has been down all season.  But while he posted a 1.87 ERA through his first 16 starts, scouts and talent evaluators saw him create greater movement with his pitches.

This could certainly be a product of concerns he has about his right knee when it comes time to push off the rubber and make his pitches.   As one evaluator pointed out this morning, “he certainly didn’t seem to be hesitant when he gave up that (fifth-inning homer to Ryan Zimmerman) and then struck (Mike) Morse out with three pitches.  He looked (ticked) off.”

With five starts remaining this year, there is still time for Jurrjens to right himself before the postseason and reintroduce himself to the success he had when he impressively pitched himself through the season’s first half without his normal velocity.

Jurrjens’ Average Velocity from 2007-2010:  Fastball –  91. 6 mph /Slider 80.2 mph

Average Velocity in 2011Fastball 89.1 mph / Slider 79.2  mph

Average Velocity Through the All-Star BreakFastball 89.3 mph/Slider  79.4 mph

Average Velocity Since All-Star Break: Fastball 88.6 mph/Slider 78.5 mph

Obviously Jurrjens’ velocity has dropped even further since the All-Star break.  But the increasing decline seemed to truly start after he labored through a 116-pitch, 5 1/3-inning victorious effort against the Rangers under a hot sun on June 19.  His fastball averaged 90.49 mph that afternoon.

When Jurrjens faced the Padres later that week, his fastball averaged just 87. 67 mph.  His only lower average velocity  in a game this year was  87.59 mph, posted during last week’s outing against the Cubs.

Average Velocity Through the Rangers StartFastball 89.4 mph / Slider  79.6 mph

Average Velocity Since Rangers Start:  Fastball 88.7 / Slider 78.6 mph

When Jurrjens rested his knee while spending the first two weeks of this month on the disabled list, he hoped to return with fresh legs.  But while he is not feeling any discomfort, he has really seen no change in the velocity he has produced since that Rangers start.

Average Velocity Since Being Activated This MonthFastball  88.6 mph  / Slider 78.3 mph

Before he endured last year’s injury-plagued season, Jurrjens’ fastball usually sat in the low 90s and occasionally jumped a few ticks when he needed to record a strikeout in certain situations.    In other words, he has never been considered a pitcher who relies heavily on his velocity.

But as he has continued to struggle to regain the velocity he has had in the past, Jurrjens has created even more reason to question his health and ability to prove dependable again down the stretch.



Should of traded him at the ASB when his value was sky high.

1. You don’t trade your best performing pitcher in the midst of a pennant race. 2. For who playing what position? 3. Hindsight is 20/20.

Not really because I said it then.

Yeah you wanted to trade Uggla and Prado then too. The only people you loved were McLouth, Gonzo and Heyward.

With the addition of Diaz we have a pretty strange bench set up. Unless they want to get J-Hey some regular time in Gwinnett–which they should unless they play him regularly in Atl–I see either Lugo or Conrad being sent down. Let me break down the bench options.. DIAZ: LF/RF. can start/pinch hit vs lefties. Average to below-average defense. HINSKE: 1B/LF/RF. big damage vs righties. CONSTANZA: OF, speedy singles hitter. average defense. CONRAD: 2B, 3B. pinch hitter, below average defense. LUGO: can’t hit or play defense at all. shouldn’t be on a mlb roster. ROSS: best backup catcher in baseball. Soooo.. with some serious help needed against lefties, i am assuming Matty D gets an immediate roster spot. I guess Lugo goes down, which would leave us with the worst fielding bench in baseball, with no utility backup for a while.. or Brooks is sent down until the roster expansion. ok, nevermind.. Sherrill was placed on the DL.

Bravo… I know you had a little hiccup last night, but tonight is redemption. Please predict Diaz going 0-4!

According to DOB, McLouth is out for rest of the year. Good luck Nate with wherever you wind up next year.

Apparently we were after Jamey Carroll but the Dodgers wouldn’t let him go. Don’t see why, he is a FA next year.

The Dancing Diaz makes an auspicious return to the Ted. God it’s great to see him in a Braves Uni again.

I never thought I would ever see the day were Derek would hit a homer.

maybe we’ll be lucky and McLouth will be the player to be named in the Matt Diaz trade. Not expecting, just really hoping.

Doesn’t really matter. He is DLed until season end and then he’s gonna be a FA. The Braves have a 2012 team option for 10MM but, I mean, seriously?

Kimbrel is just sick now. Just sick. I don’t remember a closer EVER being this unhittable for this period of time. He is locking up ROY. He will win Rolaids and really deserves some CY Young votes. Wonder where FerrisWheel is, talking down Kimbrel because he blew some saves in the 1st half of his rookie season. Here, little Weinus, here boy…..

It’s pretty easy to see why the team considered Kimbrel the right handed Billy Wagner

We got Jack Wilson…from what I remember in his Pittsburgh days, he isn’t much of a bat but a pretty good glove. Is he that much better than Brandon Hicks to make a difference?

“Wilson spent more than eight seasons with the Pirates, making a name for himself with his defense at shortstop and when he won the Silver Slugger in 2004. Wren said he came highly recommended by Nate McLouth and Eric Hinske, who played with him with the Pirates”.

Wren is now accepting recommendations from Nate McBust. Yikes.

Kimbrel’s game-ending pitch? 100 MPH. Man, I hope this kid never sees arm problems, ’cause he is gonna be money for years to come if he stays healthy.

Also, Jack Wilson would have spelled the end of Julio Lugo if rosters weren’t expanding tomorrow.

I think it will anyway. Lugo is obviously done.

Was anyone else at the game tonight? it was really nice to see so many milestones this evening. 450 for chip, d lowe with his first ever round-tripper, and kimbrel settingthe record with appx 30 games left. Sweet!

Wilson is an amazing defender and provides some late inning defense, and if needed to be a pinch hitter, any of us could do as well as Lugo. The bench now makes some sense. Nice pickup.

Craig kimbrel=98th

Pingback: Ruh-roh: Jair Jurrjens is turning into a problem | HardballTalk

Wes Helms has a bone spur in his foot, is shutting it down for the season, won’t be on the September callups; Jack Wilson is supposed to be ready to come of the DL on Friday, which at that point I think they will release Lugo to make room for him on the 40 man. I expect these callups within the next few days; Moylan, Teheran, Delgado, Hernandez, and Hicks. We have enough OF’s now with Diaz.

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