Jair Jurrjens is trying to stay positive as he attempts a comeback from a bone bruise in his right knee, but with a little more than two weeks left in the regular season, the odds are long and he knows it.
Jurrjens has been playing catch while wearing a specially-fitted knee brace for the past four days, and working on strengthening his right quadriceps muscle to take pressure off his knee. But he’s got no immediate timetable to start throwing off a mound, unlike Tommy Hanson who threw a bullpen session Sunday and plans another one Wednesday.
Jurrjens hasn't pitched since getting rocked for six runs on the 30th of August; before that game, he was 13-5 with a 2.71 ERA.
Hanson hasn't pitched since getting rocked for seven runs on the 6th of August, which capped a run of five straight rough starts; before that, he was 10-4 with a 2.44 ERA.
The Braves were (and are) uniquely capable of dealing with the losses of two ace pitchers, because rookies Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor are both good enough to pitch for any team in the major leagues. Especially Beachy.
Still, the Braves are not a good-hitting team. Without great starting pitching, they're maybe the fifth or sixth-best team in the National League. And without Jurrjens and Hanson, their starting pitching -- anchored by Hudson and Beachy -- will be merely good. If Hanson's able to come back strong, the Braves do have a fighting chance in October. But first they have to get there. And then they have to hope Derek Lowe throws a gem or two in the tournament.