Jair Jurrjens: Can the Atlanta Braves Pitcher Get Back on Track?

Will BrownContributor IAugust 4, 2011

ATLANTA - JULY 27: Jair Jurrjens #49 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Turner Field on July 27, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

It's one thing to have a bad outing or two in a row—because it happens to everybody not named Roy Halladay—but Jair Jurrjens is starting to get into pretty scary territory.

In my humble opinion, Jurrjens was the best pitcher in the first half. Yes, he far out-pitched his peripherals and doesn't strike many people out, but he got the job done to the tune of a 1.87 ERA and a record of 12-3.

In four starts so far in the second half, Jurrjens has given up 16 earned runs in just 23 innings pitched, equaling a 6.26 ERA. In the first half, the opponents' batting average against Jurrjens was just .229. so far it's .281 in the first half. 

He has also given up six homers compared to just five in the first half.

Things have spiraled out of control quickly for Jurrjens, but can he get things back to the way they were?

A simple answer is no, Jurrjens did pitch way above what his sabermetrics would suggest—such as a xFIP (fielder independent pitching) ERA of 3.89.

However, Jurrjens is not as bad as what we have seen the past couple of starts. Jurrjens may not be an elite pitcher, but he's still a very good one, so we should expect him to pitch much better the rest of the year.

Somewhere in the range of a 2.50 to 3.00 ERA should be more where he sits, rather than where he is now. Even if he pitches his xFIP the rest of the way, we would still be in good shape.

Either way, the Braves' starting pitching hasn't been nearly as good in the second half as the first half, but they should get back to where they were pretty soon.

If Jurrjens can turn things back around—and there is a large chance that he will—then the Braves are still the front runners for the wild card. If he and Tommy Hanson get things straight—and again I think they will—then the Braves are more likely than not to make the playoffs.

At this point, we are still one of the best teams in baseball, with our offense starting to come around more and more, but we need the pitching to get back to where it was. Jurrjens is the start of that.