BOSTON -- When the Braves sent Jair Jurrjens to Triple-A Gwinnett two months ago, they wanted him to build strength to improve the velocity of his fastball. In addition, they asked him to focus on producing a wider gap between the velocity of his fastball and changeup.
While limiting the Red Sox to three hits and one run in 7 2/3 innings on Friday night, the former All-Star provided indication that he made some necessary strides while in the Minors. Jurrjens' four-seam fastball came in between 90-91 mph during the first three innings. When his velocity dipped to 88-89 mph during the later innings, he kept hitters off balance by mixing in a heavy dose of changeups and some sliders.
Jurrjens completed a seven-pitch seventh inning by using three consecutive changeups to strike out Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
"That means he was making some pretty good arm action with it," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That's one of the things that we wanted him to work on. The first couple innings, with his arm action, you couldn't tell if it was a fastball or a changeup when it came out of his hand. That's the main thing."
According to BrooksBaseball.net, there was a difference of 6.2 mph between the average velocity of Jurrjens' four-seam fastball and changeup on Friday night. While the Braves would like a wider gap, Gonzalez said it is more important for the rejuvenated hurler to focus on his generating deceptive arm action.