breaking news

Authorities at the scene of a possible sixth bombing in Texas

Defense helps spotty Julio Teheran in first spring start

Julio Teheran took the mound for the first time this spring on Monday, hoping to build off a solid finish to an otherwise unspectacular 2017 season.

Teheran pitched two innings against the Nationals in the Braves’ spring home opener at the Wide World of Sports complex.

He threw 28 pitches (15 strikes) and received plentiful help from his defense, finishing a brief scoreless outing despite allowing two hits and issuing two walks.

“I feel very good,” Teheran said. “My command, it was OK. The second inning, I got excited but other than that I feel fine. Just feels a little bit weird after four months, not pitching in a real game.”

Nationals infielder Wilmer Difo hit a hard ground ball that a shifted Ozzie Albies fielded to open the game with an out. 

Top outfield prospect Victor Robles singled to left and stole second with one down in the first, but Teheran produced two left-field flyouts to avoid any damage.

Teheran’s second frame wasn’t as kind. His velocity consistently sat in the low 90s, as expected, but his control was spotty. He opened the inning with a four-pitch walk to Andrew Stevenson and gave up a single to Matt Reynolds. Ender Inciarte gunned down Stevenson at third for the first out.

Defense would bail out Teheran again afterward. He walked Rafael Bautista before inducing a fly out to right on Chris Dominguez. Nick Markakis threw out Reynolds at home for the double play.

Teheran said he plans to use his change-up more this season. He thought his change-up and slider were acceptable on Monday, and they’ll continue to be the focus of his spring. The former he intends to use more in 2018 to get ahead in counts.

“Some things to work on, like everybody,” catcher Tyler Flowers said of Teheran’s performance. “First time out, I thought it was actually pretty good. Command wasn’t great, but Julio with his makeup and everything out there, he found a way to get strikes, get some outs. Good defensive plays behind him, that always helps. 

“Couple things to work on, obviously. All in all, he said he felt pretty good. That’s the major thing right now.”

Teheran was plagued by inconsistency and home runs in 2017. He surrendered 31 long balls, tied for 10th most in the league. His ERA sat at 5.02 on Aug. 19.

He closed the season on a strong note, allowing three or fewer runs in six of his last seven starts. The lone poor outing came in his final start: five runs over six innings in a 7-1 loss to the Marlins on Sept. 28.

If nothing else, the Braves are banking on Teheran’s ability to eat innings. He’s exceeded 185 innings in each of the past six seasons. 

Teheran is perhaps the only known commodity in what’s expected to be a young rotation. Among other rotation locks, Mike Foltynewicz has yet to prove he can carry a heavy workload and Brandon McCarthy has battled injuries.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Atlanta Braves

Braves send Rule 5 pick Gomez back to Yankees
Braves send Rule 5 pick Gomez back to Yankees

After Anyelo Gomez gave up nine runs and two homers in his past two relief appearances for the Braves, he was returned Tuesday to the Yankees, from whence he came in the December Rule 5 Draft. The right-hander was rocked for eight hits, nine earned runs and two walks in three combined innings during Grapefruit League appearances March 13 and Saturday...
It’s checkers vs. chess: Braves made right move with Acuna
It’s checkers vs. chess: Braves made right move with Acuna
  As much as I would’ve liked to see Ronald Acuna have his Jason Heyward-type of opening-day moment March 29 against the Phillies at SunTrust Park, and receive a thunderous ovation from the home crowd as his major league debut coincided with the dawn of a new season, the Braves and general manager Alex Anthopoulos did the right thing Monday...
Newcomb to begin season as Braves’ fourth starter
Newcomb to begin season as Braves’ fourth starter

The Braves announced their season-opening starting rotation including Sean Newcomb in the fourth spot, ending speculation about that job. Julio Teheran will start opening day March 29 against the Phillies at SunTrust Park, followed by Mike Foltynewicz in Game 2 and veteran newcomer Brandon McCarthy in the March 31 series finale against the Phillies...
Braves phenom Acuna reassigned to minor league camp
Braves phenom Acuna reassigned to minor league camp

Ronald Acuna has been the Braves’ and arguably the major leagues’ best player this spring. On Monday he got sent down to the minor leagues. The move was not unexpected despite his performance, and neither will be the inevitable criticism that Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos receives from some for having the dynamic 20-year-old phenom...
Acuna has sizzled all spring for Braves
Acuna has sizzled all spring for Braves

Ronald Acuna’s bat has gone from hot to hotter as spring training has worn on, putting the Braves’ premier prospect near the top of almost every major statistical category among all players in either the Cactus or Grapefruit leagues. Acuna had three hits Sunday after homering in each of his three previous games, and entered Monday ranked...
More Stories