Jair Jurrjens is on his way back to the majors two months after being demoted to Triple-A, as Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the Braves will call him up to make Friday’s start against the Red Sox.
Brandon Beachy’s elbow injury opened the door for Jurrjens’ return, but he hasn’t exactly been impressive at Triple-A. Jurrjens has a 5.27 ERA in nine starts there overall, including two outings in which he allowed double-digit runs, and he gave up four runs in 6.2 innings in his most recent appearance.
Jurrjens has been terrible in the minors and majors since the middle of last season, so the Braves are definitely taking a risk by bringing him back this soon and even Fredi Gonzalez seemed less than convinced that he’s ready to thrive again versus big-leaguer hitters, saying:
He’s made some progress. His velocity has been up there. There’s some separation there with his change-up, so we’re going to give him a shot. He’s been an All-Star, he has the experience. Give him an opportunity again. I’m curious when he comes back to see how he pitches.
Atlanta could have left Jurrjens in the minors and given a spot start to Kris Medlen, but the Braves are choosing to leave him in the bullpen instead. They also could have shifted to a four-man rotation, but Tim Hudson’s ankle problems make that problematic.
The Red Sox have some tough decisions to make in advance of the World Series next week; namely, what to do with some of their hottest-hitting players once the series shifts to a National League park — and National League rules. During a press conference on Saturday, manager Alex Cora said he’d be open to the idea of starting All-Star right fielder Mookie Betts at second base when the club’s regular DH, J.D. Martinez, is forced to play the outfield during away games.
The Red Sox carry home field advantage through the Fall Classic, so Games 1 and 2 will be played at Fenway Park — as well as Games 6 and 7, should those become necessary. Depending on the outcome of NLCS Game 7 later tonight, World Series Games 3 through 5 will be played at Dodger Stadium or Miller Park. That’s when Betts might take over the keystone from Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt, both of whom have shared second base duties over the course of the 2018 postseason.
The idea isn’t without merit. Betts and Martinez comprise two of the team’s top talents at the plate and, should the Red Sox need to stave off elimination in Games 4 and 5, sitting either of them doesn’t make sense. The 26-year-old Betts led the team with a staggering .346/.438/.640 batting line, 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases, and career-best 10.4 fWAR over 614 PA, while Martinez posted some career totals of his own, slashing .330/.402/.629 with 43 home runs, a 1.031 OPS, and 5.9 fWAR in 649 PA. This wouldn’t be the first time Betts has taken reps at second, either, as he’s logged 15 games at the position over the course of his five-year career, most recently during a 4-1 win over the Yankees in August.
Whether or not Betts is considered a lock for all three games is another question, one to which Cora didn’t give a definite answer. “I don’t know, man,” the skipper told reporters Saturday. “[Betts] already played second during the regular season, so there’s always a chance, I guess.” He later added that while Betts would be taking ground balls at second, it’s part of the routine he’s maintained all year — so nothing should be read into it until a clear decision has been announced.