Jurrjens was a pleasant surprise while leading the Braves with 13 wins during his rookie season last year. But this year, the 23-year-old right-hander has truly positioned himself among the game's top pitchers. He ranks seventh in the National League with 21 quality starts, and his 2.81 ERA ranks eighth.
Coming off one of the finest starts of his young career, Jurrjens will attempt to prolong the Braves' momentum when he takes the hill during Thursday night's series finale against the Mets at Turner Field.
With a season-best six-game winning streak and wins in seven of their past eight games, the Braves have resurrected their postseason hopes. While they're still 7 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the NL East race, they've moved to within five games of the front-running Rockies in the Wild Card standings.
"We just need to keep winning, and hope that the Phillies lose a couple of games when they come in here and we can make it a race again," said Jurrjens, who won't pitch when the Phillies come to Turner Field for a three-game series this weekend.
Despite posting a 2.11 ERA, Jurrjens has collected just two wins in his past six starts. One of those victories occurred on Aug. 19, when he allowed eight hits and limited the Mets to two runs in six innings. He has gone 2-0 with a 1.83 ERA in three starts against the Mets this season.
The Mets will be hoping that Jurrjens proves to be less dominant than he was on Friday night, when he limited the Cardinals to six hits in eight scoreless innings. He ranked the outing as one of the five best of his blossoming career.
Jurrjens is just 1 2/3 innings shy of the professional-high mark he set in 2008 and six strikeouts shy of the 139 that he totaled last year. In addition, his ERA is more than a half-run better than the 3.68 ERA that he posted last year.
Still, while proving his ability to avoid the sophomore slump this year, the highly competitive Jurrjens still sees room for improvement.
"I'm not fully happy," Jurrjens said. "It seems like I'm not doing the job right to get my team into the playoffs. So I still have some work to do to get better."
ATL: RHP Jair Jurrjens (11-10, 2.81 ERA)
Jurrjens' tough-luck spell was halted on Friday, when he tossed eight scoreless innings against the Cardinals and notched just his second win during a nine-start stretch that has included a 3.10 ERA. He is 4-1 with a 2.87 ERA in six career starts against the Mets.
NYM: RHP Nelson Figueroa (2-5, 4.57 ERA)
That Figueroa limited the Phillies to two runs in 5 1/3 innings at Citizens Bank Park on Friday was an accomplishment of note if only because the damage could have been far greater. He allowed nine hits and five walks. And after striking out 10 and eight in his two previous starts, he struck out three, including opposing pitcher Cole Hamels twice. Figueroa has allowed eight earned runs in his last four starts (23 1/3 innings) but has one victory and three losses to show for his efforts. Figueroa has faced the Braves once this season; he allowed two runs in two innings of relief pitching at Citi Field on Aug. 19. The active players on the Braves' roster have batted .324 in 34 collective at-bats against Figueroa. But only Chipper Jones (2-for-12) has more than four at-bats against him. Five of the six home runs Figueroa has allowed have been hit by right-handed batters.
Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar hasn't committed an error in a career-best 37 consecutive games. He's been charged with just one error in his past 61 games. ... Tommy Hanson has worked 15 scoreless innings in his past two starts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, on Tuesday night, he became the third Atlanta Braves rookie pitcher to pitch at least seven innings in consecutive starts without allowing a run. The others were Pete Smith (1988) and Paul Marek (1990). ... Garret Anderson is 15 hits shy of 2,500 for his career. ... Jones has been out of the lineup for the past three games with a strained left groin.
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640 WGST, Project 9-6-1
Friday: Braves (Tim Hudson, 1-0, 3.63) vs. Phillies (J.A. Happ, 10-4, 2.77), 7:30 p.m. ET
Saturday: Braves (Javier Vazquez, 13-9, 3.01) vs. Phillies (TBD), 7:00 p.m. ET
Sunday: Braves (Tommy Hanson, 10-3, 2.65) vs. Phillies (TBD), 1:30 p.m. ET