Five reasons to sell high on Jair Jurrjens

I’ve never been a big Jair Jurrjens fan. Though he’s had plenty of success over his young career, he had never posted anything more than mediocre K/BB numbers until this season. His current 2.7 K/BB rate is very good and a product of a big improvement in command. However, his outstanding 1.89 ERA should be in line for a sizable regression in the second half of the season. Here’s five reasons why…

84 percent strand rate – Stranding baserunners can make an incredible difference when it comes to a pitcher’s ERA. However, for low strikeout pitchers, stranding baserunners involves a lot of help from things beyond a pitcher’s control. Jurrjens doesn’t have a crazy high ground-ball rate or a significantly low line-drive rate against, so he’s been fortunate to strand as many runners as he has. The league average strand rate is about 73-percent, so you can see how high above the norm he has been this season. In 2010, only three pitchers ended the season with strand rates over 80 percent (Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Tim Hudson).

.257 BABIP against – BABIP and strand rate go hand-in-hand when it comes to gauging luck. Jurrjens has been quite fortunate in both categories. I would view the low BABIP a bit differently if Jurrjens was holding opposing hitters to a very low line-drive rate, but he isn’t. His current line-drive rate against is about 22-percent.

5.4 K/9 – This stat could correlate with BABIP in a very bad way for Jurrjens. If he continues to post a below league average K/9 — league average is about 7 K/9 — he will continue to rely on things like his defense and where hard-hit grounders end up (in the hole instead of at a defender). These are things that Jurrjens himself cannot control. The less control he has over his outcomes, the more risk there is in expecting continued success.

1.89 ERA – Anytime you have a pitcher with an ERA under 2.00, you have yourself a nice trade chip. At this point, you’ve had 104.2 innings worth of great ERA and WHIP help from Jurrjens — not to mention 11 wins — so trading him for a hitter means that you’re not going to miss too much even if he continues to find decent success in ERA. The odds of Jurrjens putting up a sub-2.00 ERA in the second half looks to be very slim, so you’ve probably collected the best numbers of his season.

The bounty – What can you get for Jurrjens right now? In CBS leagues, he has recently been traded straight up for players like: Brandon Phillips, Heath Bell, Pablo Sandoval, Andrew McCutchen and Drew Stubbs. Yes please.