Jair Jurrjens hasn’t had a whole lot to get excited about of late, spending the better part of two months in Triple-A trying to get himself back on track. But he got a boost on Sunday when the Braves let him know they plan for him to pitch Friday night in Boston against the Red Sox.
Jurrjens last started for the Braves on April 23 in Los Angeles, when he gave up five runs in three innings, to bring him to 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in four starts to open the season. He was told after the game the Braves were sending him to Gwinnett.
Jurrjens is 3-4 with a 5.27 ERA in nine starts in Triple-A. He has seen improvement with his fastball velocity but has been inconsistent with his results. His ERA did take a hit when Jurrjens pitched sick on June 1 and gave up six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.
“He’s made some progress,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “His velocity has been up there. There’s some separation there with his change-up, so we’re going to give him a shot. He’s been an All-Star; he has the experience. Give him an opportunity again. I’m curious when he comes back to see how he pitches.”
Gonzalez said Jurrjens, who last pitched on Thursday, will likely throw a couple of innings one day early this week in Gwinnett to stay sharp, then join the Braves on Thursday’s off day in Boston.
The Braves could have inserted Kris Medlen back into the rotation. He spent two weeks in Gwinnett stretching out before the Braves decided to put him back in the bullpen given Mike Minor and Randall Delgado’s recent improvement. But even with Brandon Beachy on the DL and likely to miss a minimum of two to three starts, they still think Medlen is needed more in the bullpen.
“We thought about Medlen,” Gonzalez said. “Medlen may go back in the rotation at some point this summer, but right now we’re better off having him in the bullpen.”
Julio Teheran was another option, having just made a spot start last weekend against Toronto and pitching on the same as schedule as Beachy. But Gonzalez said Teheran felt some back stiffness during his start Saturday night in Gwinnett, when he came out after four innings and 86 pitches.
“He came out of the start yesterday with a little bit of stiffness of his back and also give JJ an opportunity to pitch up here,” Gonzalez said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do down in the minor leagues.”
With off days coming on Thursday and Monday, June 25, the Braves could have gone to a four-man rotation a couple of times through the order but given Tim Hudson’s sore ankle, they preferred to give each starter the extra time by staying on course.