Jair Jurrjens was fantastic for the Braves in the first half, but since the All-Star break he has posted a 5.86 ERA in seven starts. His latest: getting knocked around by the Nats on Tuesday night.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com takes a long look at Jurrjens in this article and observes that his velocity is down on both his fastball and on his slider. Some of that held true even in the early part of the season when he was successful, but Bowman notes that he had way more movement on his pitches then. A scout Bowman talked to yesterday, however, said “He doesn’t even look anything like the same guy.” I’ve missed Jurrjens’ last couple of starts, but yeah, the results speak to a totally different pitcher.
The Braves are going to need an effective Jurrjens come playoff time. If it’s health that is the problem — and Bowman thinks it’s Jurrjens’ perpetually-bum knee which is flaring up — maybe it’s best to skip him once or twice down the stretch.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.
The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.
Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.
Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”