Was it just happenstance that Dave O’Brien’s report of Jair Jurrjens’ impending MRI coincided, more or less, with Tom Verducci’s annual look at young pitchers at risk? Because, as the SI.com writer notes, Jurrjens was one of those who appeared to have defied the so-called Verducci Effect.
Ten months ago Verducci identified Jurrjens as one of 10 pitchers under 25 who’d increased his workload by more than 30 innings. You can question the methodology — Eric Seidman of FanGraphs did here — but there’s enough data to make the V-Effect worth noting. Writes Verducci:
“In the previous four years, I have identified 34 at-risk pitchers. Only four of them made it through that year without injury and with a lower ERA: [Ubaldo] Jimenez and three studs who did it last year — Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw and Jair Jurrjens. (Jurrjens may not have escaped the effect after all. He reported to camp this week with a sore shoulder and will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the problem.)”
It could be that the MRI comes up clean. (Famous — and perhaps apocryphal — baseball headline: “X-rays of [Dizzy] Dean’s head show nothing.”) But it’s also worth noting that Tommy Hanson, whom Verducci didn’t earmark this spring, worked 194 innings (counting 66 at Gwinnett) in 2009 after logging 138 in the minors in 2008. Hanson is 23.
I say again: Handling a good young pitcher is the toughest trick in baseball. If he’s really good and your team has a chance to win something, how do you not deploy him? At the same time, the six most frightening words in the sport should be these:
Chicago Cubs. Kerry Wood. Mark Prior.