Jair Jurjjens Emerging Among League's Elite

Chris WilkesContributor IIApril 27, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 21:  Jair Jurrjens #49 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning at Dodger Stadium on April 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

After his dazzling performance last night, Atlanta Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens has silenced all the early season doubts. Atlanta fans had good reason to be worried about the young righty, who started the season on the DL with a strained oblique. Jurjjens, who finished last season and started this season with injury, was beginning to seem somewhat fragile. But after three stellar outings, he looks to be off to a career-best season.

Although he is only the fourth starter in the Braves' rotation, Jurrjens is quickly emerging as the staff ace in the 2011 season. Starting with a dominant seven inning one-hit start against the Mets, Jurrjens has been on a hot streak with a staff-best 1.23 ERA. He also leads the team in hits allowed and fewest walks. With an exhausted Atlanta bullpen, Jurrjens threw a much-needed complete game against the Padres on Tuesday night.

While he doesn't pitch with the flashy strikeouts of pitchers like Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, Jurjjens is quickly becoming one of the league's best.

Like fellow starters Hudson and Lowe, Jair relies on a heavy diet of ground balls and key double plays to dominate opposing lineups. He is backed by an excellent Atlanta defense that has only allowed only 12 errors and a league-best 27 double plays. The Braves offense has given the right-hander adequate run support to pitch seven innings in two of his three starts.  

With the stability Jurrjens back in the rotation, the Braves pitching is beginning to resemble the impressive rotation seen last season. Pitchers Tommy Hanson and Brandon Beachy have also improved in each of their starts. The young arms, combined with the consistent pitching of veterans Hudson and Lowe, make for a staff that is becoming quite a formidable ensemble in the tough NL East.

 

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