Julio Teheran’s time in Atlanta may be finished.
For the 2nd season in a row, Brian Snitker opted to keep Julio Teheran out of the postseason rotation. He had a bit of a revelation in 2019, looking like the dominant pitcher he has been at times in the past, finishing the year with ten wins, a 3.81 ERA and 162 Ks, but he did falter down the stretch. Over the last 36 innings, he gave up 17 runs. He’s only thrown four postseason innings in his career and was rocked in those, surrendering six earned runs. However, I will note that all of that damage came in a start against the Dodgers back in 2013.
Snitker didn’t completely shut the door on Teheran, though; he mentioned him potentially being available for the NLCS if Atlanta advances. His option for next season is only $12 million, so there’s a 50/50 chance the club brings him back for one more ride, depending on how their young arms pan out. The Braves will be rolling with Keuchel, Folty, and Soroka for Games 1-3. Max Fried will be available out of the bullpen and could potentially get a start if need be in Game 4. Josh Tomlin will serve as the long relief man.
The most controversial addition to this roster was Rafael Ortega. He hit .143 in September, and even though he’s had a few clutch hits this season, I don’t see a lot of merit in keeping him. Brian Snitker wanted a left-handed bat on the bench, and well, here he is. Ortega and Billy Hamilton both made the roster over Austin Riley, who has hit .157 over his last 30 MLB games. I’d rather have Riley over Hamilton, but I guess Snitker values the speed and defense.
Dallas Keuchel rightfully is the Game 1 starter. He’s the only arm on this roster with significant playoff experience; he has a postseason ERA of 3.31 and 51.2 innings under his belt. Keuchel also boasts a 2.74 ERA at Suntrust Park, so he’s comfortable in Atlanta with the home crowd behind him.
We talked about this on the podcast, but Mike Foltynewicz has been spectacular since his return and seems to have his mind right for this postseason. Folty has had his playoff struggles but posted a 1.73 ERA over his last 41.2 innings pitched. Much like Medlen in the Wild Card game a few seasons ago, you go with the hot hand at the time. He’s going to have to keep it going, and a 1.50 ERA in September should be all the momentum he needs as he prepares for a Game 2 start.
I like the decision to start Soroka Game 3. He has a 1.55 ERA on the road vs. a 4.14 ERA at home. Despite his age, the moment has never been too big for Soroka. That might change in the postseason, but I don’t expect it to. He was built for this.