Not many people thought Jair Jurrjens was going to do what he did Friday night in Boston. Even if you thought he was going to do well, there was no way you thought he was going to do that well.
The Atlanta right-hander pitched 7-2/3 innings and gave up only one run on three hits. It was quite a return for Jurrjens, as some wondered if he would ever pitch again in an Atlanta uniform.
He was the one who made people believe that. Jurrjens was awful to start this season, with ordinary stuff and horrible stats, and then he didnt do a very good job in Triple-A Gwinnett. If not for an injury to Brandon Beachy, there is no way Jurrjens would have gotten another chance.
But Jurrjens is being paid $5.5 million this season, and its hard to keep someone like that in the minor leagues. Teams want to give players every possible chance to see if they can contribute.
Now that Jurrjens has done just that, we have to see what will come next. Will Jurrjens show he is, in fact, back to the standard he set in the first half of 2011, when he was so good many believed he should have started the All-Star game?
Or will he go back to being the pitcher who looked so lost in April that a trip to the minor leagues was the only answer?
He still has a lot to prove, but the performance by Jurrjens was a big lift for this team. The Braves seemed psychologically down after Beachys injury. Beachy had been one of the best pitchers in the NL this season, and theres no doubt losing him was a big blow.
It was good that the Braves had options, but teams still never want to lose a pitcher who had pitched that well. It was about as bad as last season, when the Braves lost Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson to injuries in the second half of the season.
Jurrjens performance might scale back the urgency to find another starting pitcher. Rumors circulated all week the Braves had scouted Chicago right-hander Matt Garza, and they were no doubt looking at others who might be available before the trade deadline in five weeks.
Theyll still continue to look, but Jurrjens can make that unnecessary if he continues his solid work. The big question general manager Frank Wren must ask is whether a trio of Tim Hudson, Hanson and Jurrjens would be a good enough trio in a postseason series. If Jurrjens doesnt cut it and he has to be replaced by Randall Delgado or Mike Minor as the third starter in the rotation, the answer to that question might be a bit more difficult to answer.
If Jurrjens does well, the Braves might instead look to improve other needs. They desperately need help on the bench, as the combined batting average for David Ross, Jack Wilson, Eric Hinske, Juan Francisco and Matt Diaz was .222 entering Saturdays game.
The Braves need insurance in case something happens to Chipper Jones that would keep him out for a significant period of time. Plus, we saw when Freddie Freeman was out how challenged the lineup was with Hinske getting consistent playing time.
Another bullpen arm wouldnt hurt. Jonny Venters and Eric OFlaherty havent been as dominant as they were last year, and if Kris Medlen gets thrown into the rotation, the bullpen need would be even greater. Theyll probably look around to see if someone like Matt Belisle, a former Macon Braves star now doing well as a setup man in Colorado, could be available.
Jurrjens could eliminate the need for a starting pitcher if he continues to do well. The Braves are in pretty good shape with Hudson and Hanson at the top of the rotation, but if Jurrjens stabilizes the No. 3 spot, it will help this team in more ways than one.
Listen to The Bill Shanks Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. E-mail Bill at email@example.com.