CHICAGO -- Rangers starter Ariel Jurado pitched his first Major League complete game on Thursday night against the White Sox and manager Chris Woodward said it came at the right time considering how hard his bullpen worked during the previous four-game series with the Angels.
“Our bullpen will be reinforced,” Woodward said. “We needed that.”
The complete game was nice, but it was also just an eight-inning outing in a 6-1 loss at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Most of the damage was done in the third when Jurado gave up back-to-back home runs to Yoan Moncada and James McCann. The White Sox took a 5-1 lead and the Rangers only managed three hits total against starter Ross Detwiler and two relievers.
Jurado allowed 10 hits, walked one and struck out two. He is 1-6 with a 7.52 ERA in his last eight outings. In that stretch, he has allowed 56 hits in 40 2/3 innings, along with 15 walks and 26 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting .337 off him.
“If you have a bad inning, you have to keep battling,” Juradao said. “It can happen to anybody. A lot of pitchers have one bad inning. You have to make adjustments.”
The simple fact is Jurado doesn’t miss many bats when he pitches. He has one dominant pitch, a sinker. It is not a swing-and-miss pitch. That has to come from the offspeed pitches and that is not Jurado’s strength.
“I don’t think he has elite offspeed pitches,” Woodward said. “He’s got to make sure he puts them in spots that limits the damage. He can’t miss in the middle of the plate. He does not have elite offspeed pitches. He has a pretty good sinker. I felt his fastball was better today. It was coming out of his hand better. Velocity was better. He was attacking hitters, he just has to stay to the edges. He’s got to pitch and for the most part he did today.”
Jurado threw 112 pitches and had only eight swing-and-misses. That is a swinging-strike rate of 7.1 percent. Going into the game his 8.3 swinging-strike rate was the sixth lowest of 115 pitchers this season, minimum 1,500 pitches.
Jurado had 29 balls put in play against him, and 15 were hit hard (95-plus mph exit velocity), which is tied for the most any pitcher has allowed in a game this season. It’s a hard-hit rate of 51.7 percent. Coming into the game, his 43.2 percent hard-hit allowed was the sixth highest of 124 pitchers this season, minimum 250 batted balls.
That’s what happens in a complete game when there is just two strikeouts.
“That is the best I have seen him throw in awhile,” Woodward said. “I know he gave up six, but he saved our rear. But his performance, he was better. Just that one inning killed him. Take that away and seven innings in two runs. At times, he was making good pitches and not getting calls. Part of that was missing with his command. If he is consistent with that, he’s got enough stuff to consistently get good team outs.”
Jurado has pitched better this season as a reliever with a 1.17 ERA in 10 appearances. That was early in the season when he was fresh. Now the Rangers need him in the rotation because they just don’t have anybody else until the blister on Joe Palumbo’s left hand heals. The best that can be said about the series opener against the White Sox is at least the bullpen didn’t get overworked again.