Jair Jurrjens v. Randall DelgadoPosted: April 23, 2012
With the news of Tim Hudson about a week away from returning, the discussion has begun about who he will replace in the rotation. There is no reason for the Braves to go to a 6-man rotation, as some have thrown out. The two candidates up for this demotion are Jurrjens and Delgado. I waited to write this article until both had made three starts for comparison’s sake. Jurrjens will pitch again tonight against the Dodgers, and Delgado should also receive one more start before Hudson returns. It is very early in the year but I shied away from using past seasons data because Jurrjens is a different pitcher than he used to be. He no longer throws with the velocity and command he did in previous years, or at least not so far this season. He is not as bad as he has shown so far, but he is not the “sub 3 ERA guy” some want to think. Let it be noted that both pitchers do have options remaining. Here is how these two have stacked up so far this year (prior to Monday’s game).
It’s pretty clear Delgado’s numbers are better than Jurrjens in almost all meaningful categories, this also coincides with what our eyes have told us. He has simply pitched better than Jurrjens this year. In the short-term, keeping Delgado over Jurrjens is probably the right move. However, I do not see this as being the right move for the long run of the team. I realize the objective is to put the best team out there to obtain as many wins; throwing Delgado every fifth day as opposed to Jurrjens does not yield a great enough drop off, if one at all, to warrant this move. The main reason though is the continuing possibility dealing Jurrjens mid-season.
Right now he has little to no trade value. He would obtain nothing more than a low/mid-level prospect or a replacement level veteran, if that for the Braves. Sending him to AAA would basically signal to teams that he is not capable of pitching in the Majors. I believe Jurrjens is not as bad as he has shown. While his velocity has dropped, I believe with improved command that he has shown in the past, he can be a mid rotation starter. These types of pieces serve value to many teams down the stretch who need pitching.
Delgado is still young, pitching this season at age 22. He is still maturing as a pitcher and has shown some of his vulnerabilities as a rookie. As we saw in yesterdays game, he is prone to mistakes that should never be made by pitcher, walking the opposing pitcher after an IBB with the bases loaded. After that I believe he was a bit rattled which lead to a first pitch grand slam. These are the types of situations that are vital for a pitcher to grow and learn from. There is a lot of fine tuning that Delgado can still do as a youngster in AAA.
This really is a unique situation about who should be sent down. Normally it would be smart to take the better pitcher. I would only suggest keeping Delgado up if he was putting up numbers that are similar to Beachy or Minor’s. His walk rate is a little concerning but I believe this is something he will be able to work on in AAA. His secondary pitches still need improvement as any young 22-year-old needs. I think Jurrjens will be a better pitcher going forward this year.There is no doubt Delgado should be a part of this staff in the near future, if not more so than Jurrjens. It will be interesting to see if the Braves see it through the same lens, we will find out later this week.
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UPDATE (2:15pm): Braves beat writer Dave O’Brien more or less confirmed this on Twitter.
UPDATE (1:00am): Jurrjens continued to disappoint finishing with, 3IP, 9H, 5ER 1BB, 0K to move to 0-2 on the year. His command was terrible again and was lucky he didn’t give up more He only got two swing and misses all night . The Braves got a real debacle on their hand and the proposition of placing him on the DL seems more realistic.