Julio Teheran struggled mightily in home starts during the first season at new SunTrust Park. (AP photo)

Braves’ Teheran has new ’do, renewed confidence after offseason work

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Julio Teheran’s European vacation this winter influenced his ever-changing, bold hairstyle, but it was advice from an uncle that might’ve helped the Braves pitcher get his groove back on the mound.

That’s what Teheran hopes for after spending a lot of hours this winter with uncle Miguel Teheran, a former Braves scout who’s been the right-hander’s personal pitching coach back home in Colombia for at least a decade.

“I had vacation with my family,” said Teheran, who traveled to five European cities with his wife and young son, “and after that I started working in December. Couple of things that I needed to fix, I think I did pretty good with my uncle, who’s always been my pitching coach. We spent a lot of time (working) this offseason, and I think everything is back on track and hopefully I can show it this spring training.”

Teheran, a two-time former All-Star who turned 27 last month, is coming off a below-average season (11-13, 4.49 ERA) notable for its jarring disparities – he was a solid 8-3 with a 3.14 ERA and .717 opponents’ OPS in 15 road starts, but an alarming 3-10 with a 5.86 ERA and .824 opponents’ OPS in 17 home starts.

“You want to do your best, and it didn’t happen,” he said. “That was last year, this year I have a different mind. I’ve got in my mind what I want to do this year and how I want to do to help my team win some more games. Obviously I want to win some more games, throw more innings.”

After going 0-9 with a 7.36 ERA in 12 home starts over a four-month stretch from April 19-Aug. 19, Teheran was 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his final four home starts, an encouraging sign to those who wondered if pitching in SunTrust Park had gotten into his head. 

Then he finished the season with a Sept. 28 start at Miami and was torched for eight hits, five runs and three walks in six innings for his 13th loss, matching his career high.

He said pitching better at home in the last weeks of the season, “helped a little bit. My last start wasn’t like I wanted – six runs (allowed) your last game, you don’t want that. But I was doing fine before that last start. That’s the way I wanted to finish. Some of the stuff I did at home helped me figure out what I wanted to work on in the offseason, and that’s the thing that I focused on this offseason with my uncle, watching videos of that stuff. 

“I think it’s a new season, new spring training, and we’ll see how everything goes.”

Asked for specifics that he worked on, Teheran said, “Just a couple of things that we (stop thinking about), and my uncle, he’s been my coach, so he knows what I’ve been doing since I signed at 17 years old. He knows what I have wrong when I’m doing something wrong with my pitches, with my fastball and all kind of stuff. I think we fixed it this offseason.”

Teheran sported something resembling a Mohawk haircut when he reported with other Braves pitchers and catchers to spring training Tuesday. A wide swath of hair rises a few inches atop his head, while the sides are close-cropped.

“Yeah, that’s something that started when I went (to Europe),” he said. “I see different styles, and that’s one that I wanted to do with my hair.”