Jair Jurrjens’ return to form is good news for the Atlanta Braves ahead of their match-up with the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday. Jurrjens, who was an All Star in 2011, began the season in the Braves pitching rotation but was simply awful (9.37 ERA in four starts) and was sent down to the minor leagues. Since returning he’s bounced back nicely, posting a 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA. In particular, he’s shown great control, allowing just five walks in 25 1/3 innings.
San Francisco’s Barry Zito has been moving in the other direction. Through his first seven starts this year he had a 3.00 ERA, in the nine starts since he’s seen his ERA balloon to 4.01. More troubling was how he pitched in the second half last year: he went 0-3 with a 10.53 ERA after a promising first half (3-1 3.18 ERA). The implication is that, at this point in his career, Zito tires as the season drags on. Go with the resurgent Jurrjens and the Braves at 1.62 as Zito and his Giants – on at 2.30 – are not the right pick.
The home team Boston Red Sox should dispatch the Chicago White Sox. While Red Sox starter Jon Lester is coming off the worst half of his career (5-6 4.49 ERA), the fact that he’s left-handed (and, despite the numbers, remains a talented pitcher) augurs well for Boston. The White Sox have not swung the bat as well against lefties (.248 batting average/.395 slugging %) as against righties (.265 BA/.432 slugging %). Moreover, their leading home run hitter, Adam Dunn is hitting .195 against lefties, which is an improvement on last season but still poor for a middle-of-the-order slugger.
Chicago’s starter also doesn’t help their cause. Despite his perfect game, Philip Humber has struggled. He’s 3-4 with a 6.01 ERA and has been battling a right elbow flexor strain. Already 3-1 against the White Sox (2.55) in 2012, the Red Sox, who are available at 1.52, should increase that advantage.