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 Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.