May 9, 2011 at 11:30 pm by Kevin Orris under Atlanta Braves
No matter how big the sample size, the fact of the matter is that Jair Jurrjens is a new pitcher.
This year, his new numbers have come with a completely different approach. In the new days of pitch f/x and sabermetrics, scrutiny of pitchers is stronger than ever and thanks to this revolutionary change, the evidence behind Jurrjens’ success is clear-cut: his two-seam fastball.
Now, Jurrjens has thrown a two-seam fastball for a few years now, but it wasn’t until this season that he showed real confidence in the pitch. Thanks to JoeLefkowitz.com, I’ve created this quick chart below to show the increased dedication to his new favorite pitch.
|Year||v. RHB %||v. LHB %||Total %|
It’s clear that he’s relying on his two-seamer more than ever in 2011, and it appears to be working. Through five starts, Jurrjens is on pace for a career low 2.69 FIP and 3.37 xFIP according to FanGraphs.com.
With the inclusion of his new favorite pitch, the Curacao native is inducing ground balls 50.4% of the time, compared to his 45.4% career average and 39.9% rate from last season.
While those numbers indicate that his 1.50 ERA, that’s mainly due to his spectacular 87.8% LOB% (his career average is 74.2%) this season. In addition to his strand rate, Jurrjens has allowed just 3.0% HR/FB which is also due to regress.
In short, Jurrjens reliability on his two-seam fastball and a slight decrease in velocity has paid dividends to this point, and while he’s probably going to experience a slight regressions, he’s still on pace for a career best season.