Were the Atlanta Braves Right to Demote Jair Jurrjens?

Owen MacleodContributor IIApril 24, 2012

Fredi Gonzalez and the rest of the Braves' front office demoted Jurrjens Tuesday after another poor start on Monday night in Los Angeles.
Fredi Gonzalez and the rest of the Braves' front office demoted Jurrjens Tuesday after another poor start on Monday night in Los Angeles.Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Jair Jurrjens isn’t getting any better. Since suffering a knee injury in the second half of the 2011 season, Jurrjens has looked uncomfortable on the mound has has vastly underperformed for an Atlanta Braves team that needed him to be one of the consistent starters in their rotation.

So far in 2012, Jurrjens has four starts and a 9.37 ERA which is the highest of any Braves pitcher. He has allowed 30 hits and 17 earned runs in 16.1 innings, and his pitches have looked flat with no movement to deceive hitters. Tim Hudson is due to come up from triple-A Gwinnett within a few weeks, and the starting rotation needed to be fiddled with to find room for him. 

The Braves had hinted that they would be sending Randall Delgado, a young Braves right-hander who has two wins in three starts this year. Delgado, although his ERA is 5.74, has looked good in his three starts this season, and he had only started one Major League ballgame before 2012, so he is still learning on the job.

The Braves have provided plenty of run support to Delgado, and every other starter for that matter, and he has been able to stunt the opposing lineup long enough for the Braves to build up an insurmountable number of runs against the opposing pitcher. 

Delgado has certainly looked more under control than Jurrjens this season, and that is probably the main reason that the Braves front office decided to send Jurrjens down to triple-A Gwinnett after another lackluster start in Los Angeles where he gave up nine hits and five earned runs in three innings of work.

Jurrjens was in Cy Young form in the first half of 2011, and was selected to the first All Star game of his career. He ended up recording 13 wins for the Braves in 2011 and, despite a knee injury that landed him on the disabled list and a start in Gwinnett, he was expected to be one of the Braves’ solid arms to rely on this season. 

Jurrjens has been dependable in 2012, but the Braves can only depend on him for losses and a huge deficit to overcome within the first four innings of games.

The fact is, Delgado has been far more consistent than Jurrjens, and Delgado has much more confidence in the rotation right now. It makes sense for the Braves to invest starts and instruction on Delgado over Jurrjens for the moment because Delgado has been the more reliable arm. If he can learn how to pitch in certain situations and start putting up some one-two-three innings, he can be a solid starter in the Braves’ rotation.

Jurrjens will look to regain his Cy Young form in the minors for the time being. Whether the Braves will look to groom him for a trade later in the year is still not clear, but as of right now, the rotation is better off with Jurrjens in Gwinnett.