He’s always been high in the minds of those inside the Atlanta Braves‘ organization. Yet coming into 2013, there were those who doubted Julio Teheran, so he went 14-8 with a 3.20 ERA to finish fifth in the rookie of the year race. Coming into 2014, people were claiming that we had seen the best of Teheran and a sophomore slump was due to happen.
Twelve starts later, the 23-year-old Colombian born pitcher is pitching like the ace that the Braves are used to having. In those starts, he has two complete game shutouts, five total wins and an ERA of 1.83 (third in MLB). Needless to say, he is fighting off the sophomore slump and the way he is doing it is totally different from the way most 23-year-old pitchers would.
This season, his strikeout numbers are a little down from what they were in 2013 while his walk numbers are the exact same as his pace last season (2.2 per nine innings). He’s striking out less batters and walking the same number of batters, so how has he been BETTER than he was a season ago?
While getting 30 starts in his 22-year-old rookie season, there must have been quite a bit to learn. With a year of experience under his belt, it seems like he has left behind the young fireballer type pitcher and is learning how to pitch in the major leagues. This season he is pitching to more contact than in the past, yet he is giving up two less hits per nine innings pitched. Due to that, his WHIP is holding pretty strong at 0.932, which is the fifth lowest number in all of baseball. He also stands at fifth in baseball with his Average Game Score of 64.8. He’s done all of this by pitching more often to contact yet being able to use the strike zone to his advantage. He is working is fastball anywhere he wants to with great command and his slider is possibly the best pitch that any pitcher not named Craig Kimbrel has on the team.
To go along with all of this, Teheran has fallen victim twice to a lack of run support, with two of his three losses being 2-0 and 3-1 games, as the offense struggled. We are looking at a kid who could easily be 7-1 instead of 5-3 going into his start against the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight.