The Atlanta Braves may have found their ace. Julio Teheran looks poised to step up and take over as the best pitcher in the starting rotation after his performance in Spring Training today. Recently, the Braves received some bad news about two of their better starting pitchers, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, who look like they’ll be out for the year. However, there’s no need to panic Atlanta fans, Teheran seems to be the real deal heading into the 2014 season.
When GM Frank Wren decided to sign the 23-year-old pitcher to a six-year, $32.4 million extension this offseason, some questioned the move. Many believed that the young pitcher had not proven enough to warrant such a contract. After all, last season was his first in the big leagues, and many wanted to see what he would do in year two when teams have more tape on him. If Spring Training gives us any indication of what he can be in 2014, though, Teheran is ready for a breakout.
Against the New York Yankees today, he demonstrated the ability to get out of a jam and displayed some nasty stuff on the mound. In the first inning, he got into a little bit of trouble when Ichiro Suzuki started the game with a double and then Eduardo Nunez hit a single to put runners on first and third with no outs. However, Teheran didn’t looked disturbed at all about the pressure. The next three batters he faced were Mark Teixeira, former teammate Brain McCann and Kelly Johnson, who all went down swinging.
The next inning wasn’t his best as he allowed a run to come through, but that was his first run allowed all Spring Training. The rest of the way he looked great. Teheran pitched for four innings, allowing five hits, one earned run, one walk and struck out five batters to end an impressive day on the mound. The Yankees have one of the more potent lineups in the league, and to see him pitch well against them shows that Teheran is ready to take over as the ace of the Braves’ pitching staff.
His ERA sits at a remarkable 0.69 for the spring, but more importantly, he looks like he has full control of all his pitches. His fastball is around the 92-95-mph range, and he is starting to put this pitch where he wants in the strike zone in order to make batters miss as evidenced by today. However, what he’s really shown in Spring Training is that his off-speed stuff looks sharp entering the 2014 season. If he can continue to complement his fastball with some well-placed off-speed pitches, Teheran should be a lethal ace for the Braves.