Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training for the Atlanta Braves in just days on Feb. 11. Over the course of the next few weeks leading up to the regular season we will take a look at members of the Braves and preview their 2013 season. Leading off the series of previews is Julio Teheran, who Braves fans have been watching and anticipating his arrival for the past few years.
2012 Recap: I’m sure Teheran would be the first to tell you that his 2012 season was a disappointment. After being named the Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2011, Teheran showed signs of regressing last year with a 7-9 record and 5.08 ERA at triple-A. He only started one game and made two appearances in Atlanta last year. He gave up four runs in 4.1 innings in his only start in June against the Toronto Blue Jays. He looked better in two shutout innings in his final appearance in October against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
2013 Outlook: Many fans wondered if Teheran was going to be the next pitcher in line of never living up to the hype surrounding the No. 1 prospect in the organization. Despite his rocky 2012 season, general manager Frank Wren stated this off-season that he had the inside track to be the Braves No. 5 starter this season. The optimistic outlook on Teheran bouncing back in 2013 is due to the success he had in winter ball this off-season as well as his return to his old delivery. The Braves originally tinkered with his delivery in hopes to relieve stress on his arm and prevent future injury problems. However, the velocity on his fastball dropped significantly and with that his confidence. He has returned to his more natural delivery and has lead to success this winter as noted by the AJC. The highlights from winter ball include a five inning no-hit performance and a six inning one-hit shutout.
Unless Teheran absolutely blows up this spring training, he will enter this season as the No. 5 starter. The Braves need to see what he can do on a consistent basis at the MLB level. Expect him to have the classic ups and downs of a young pitcher. He will have his moments where he dominates – his electric fastball, deceiving change-up and sharp breaking ball will allow him to do that. However, there will be times when he struggles and reveals his youth as a pitcher. The big question for Teheran will come around the All-Star break when Brandon Beachy returns. If all pitchers are healthy, Teheran could be the odd man out again. It will be up to him to seize that opportunity with Beachy out and prove to the Braves he belongs. For now, I’ll project Teheran’s ERA to hover around four this season and pick up 10-12 wins, but more importantly will show enough potential for Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez to feel good about his place in the Braves rotation for the upcoming years.