After completing a bullpen session at Turner Field on Thursday afternoon, a frustrated Jurrjens said that he has not reached a point where he can confidently push off the rubber with his right leg and complete his delivery with necessary authority.
"My main concern right now is to be pitching in the playoffs," Jurrjens said. "Last year was the worst feeling, sitting on the side and not being able to perform and not being able to help the team in the playoffs."
Jurrjens missed the final two weeks of the 2010 season because of a torn meniscus in his right knee. The ailment was repaired via arthroscopic surgery in October, and he did not have any problems as he posted a National League-best 1.87 ERA heading into this year's All-Star break. But after he struggled to generate power coming out of the break, he spent most of August's first two weeks on the disabled list.
After allowing three homers and six runs in Tuesday's loss to the Nationals, Jurrjens said his knee felt fine, but said he was not trusting it during his delivery. He provided a better description Thursday.
"It's a pinch," Jurrjens said. "Every time I want to push off, it pinches me and I take my leg off the rubber. It's something I want to take care of before it becomes something worse."
An MRI exam performed Wednesday showed no structural damage. But while posting a 5.88 ERA since the All-Star break, it's safe to say Jurrjens' psyche has been damaged.
Dating back to the start of this season, Jurrjens has struggled to generate the velocity he has displayed in the past. When he was not proving tentative with his delivery in the season's first half, he generated more movement with his pitches than he has recently. According to fangraphs.com and brooksbaseball.net ,the average velocity of Jurrjens' fastball before the All-Star break was 89.3 mph. That was down from the 91.6-mph average he had produced over the four previous seasons. But it was better than the 88.6 mph-average he has produced since the All-Star break.
"The way I'm pitching right now, I'm not helping the team," Jurrjens said. "I want to be able to help the team. It's getting better. But it's not getting better on the field. It's getting frustrating because I'm not able to perform and be the pitcher I need to be. I don't need to try to trick people."
The Braves will likely promote Randall Delgado to start in Jurrjens' place Sunday, and then use Julio Teheran to pitch in next week's doubleheader against the Mets in New York.