Braves: Julio Teheran has ignored the talk and thrived early on

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Who wanted Julio Teheran traded again? Ok, I admit I was one of those guys, and it wasn’t without reason. Teheran has been flat out underwhelming for years now, and with so many young arms on the horizon, many of us were fully prepared to give guys like Touki, Newcomb, Bryse Wilson and Kyle Wright extended opportunities.

Trading the Braves longest tenured pitcher would have also opened up a significant bit of cap space ($11 million to be exact). I’m sure you are familiar with the term “financial flexibility.” Perhaps the Braves could have used those extra pennies on a bullpen arm or two. God forbid, they need a few of those. But whatever your views were on Teheran coming into the season, the front office opted to hold on, and the man who has started six consecutive Opening Days is making them look better with each start.

2019 began for Teheran a lot like most Braves’ fans would have expected – a leadoff home run to Andrew McCutchen. “Here we go again,” had to be the collective feeling within the organization, but the Colombian native settled down and finished the outing nicely against a powerful Phillies lineup.

His next six starts in April where nothing to write home about. They would often start with four or five innings of scoreless baseball only to be ruined by one miserable inning that featured a couple of walks and at least one longball. In his last start of the month, he allowed three home runs to the San Diego Padres, pushing his total to eight bombs allowed in just seven starts. As a result, his ERA inflated to 5.35 before the calendar turned to May – the month where things have changed for Teheran.

In this beautiful May, which also happens to be my birth month, Teheran has yet to allow a single home run in four starts.

*Checks the last time that has happened in his career*

You have to go back to a stretch in 2016 from July to August where Teheran has not allowed a home run in four straight starts. Anybody who watches him pitch knows that taters are his Achilles’ heel. When he keeps the ball in the ballpark; he can be as good as anyone on the Braves staff.

As you might expect, with this extended homerless streak, Teheran has lowered his ERA significantly to 3.67 on the year. He’s only allowed two earned runs in May (22.2 innings), and his WHIP is below one.

The truth of the matter is Teheran has looked in command all season. A few ugly innings have his ERA way higher than it should be. His fastball isn’t coming in any harder, but his movement on the sinker and slider is far better than it was a year ago, which has made all the difference. Right now, Teheran is the third-best starter on the team, and the worrying can stop when he toes the rubber every five days.

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