Jair Jurrjens to visit knee specialist this weekend

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MLB.com beat writer Mark Bowman suggested Thursday morning that Jair Jurrjens’ recent struggles might be attributed to lingering discomfort in the young starter’s troublesome right knee.

It turns out Bowman was right.

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported about one hour ago that Jurrjens is scheduled to visit knee specialist Dr. Richard Steadman this weekend in Vail, Colorado.

The Braves are confident that Jurrjens does not have any structural damage in his right knee because an MRI taken Wednesday revealed only a bone bruise. Rather, they’re hoping that the visit will yield new treatment options. And maybe an assurance that the 25-year-old right-hander will be back to his old dominant self by the time the postseason arrives.

Jurrjens posted an ugly 6.17 ERA in four August starts and will likely have to be skipped on his next turn through the Braves’ starting rotation, but he was one of baseball’s best pitchers during the first half of this season and will try to get back in the groove before the beginning of October.

The Braves hold an eight-game lead over the Cardinals in the National League Wild Card standings.

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.