Yes, baseball fans, it’s Opening Day. The long-awaited day for the die-hard fan is finally here, and we won’t have to go without America’s pastime until October (September for the unfortunate fans).
For the Atlanta Braves, today marks the end of a spring that handed season-ending injuries to star pitchers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy. However, with those losses will spring the emergence of future ace and All-Star pitcher Julio Teheran.
Teheran has been tabbed to be the Opening Day starter for the Braves against the Milwaukee Brewers and will be leaned upon to be a No. 1 starter in this rotation for most likely the entirety of the 2014 season. With that, there are a few things that he will have to do to uphold his standing in the rotation.
First off, he must remain in control of his emotions. Sometimes, Teheran tends to get a little amped up when he is in a big situation. When he does that, his fastball velocity does increase, but his pitches tend to get a little up in the zone and it leads to more balls being squared up by hitters. As that happens, Teheran tends to try to be too fine with his pitches while in the big situation.
Secondly, he has to locate his fastball. Every pitcher has to locate this pitch in order to be successful in the major leagues, yet it is important for Teheran in order to set up his better-than-average changeup. He has the ability and the stuff to strike out 190-200 batters in a season, but he’ll have to be a little more efficient in going deeper into games as the team will want him to do.
Also, if he is locating his fastball at the corners like he did at times in 2013, there will be a lot of hitters walking back to the dugout with confused looks on their faces as to how he actually struck them out.
Finally, Teheran has to remain confident in himself. For two seasons (2011-2012), he was Baseball America’s No. 5 prospect in all of baseball before falling to No. 44 before the 2013 season. In 2012, it seemed like Teheran lost confidence after a tough start to the season and a very rough (and short) patch in Atlanta. However, when he was named to the Opening Day roster, Teheran seemed to regain his swagger. With the confidence that he was in the rotation, he dominated the major leagues for the majority of 2013.
For the Braves to be successful in 2014, Teheran needs to consistently be the anchor of the rotation and provide the team with performances that he has the ability to put up through a full season.