Julio Teheran was one of the biggest disappointments for the Braves during the 2016 season.
The Braves “ace” did not perform like one and posted a sub .500 win-loss record for the second consecutive season. I for one have been a long believer that Julio Teheran is a lower tier number one or a top tier number two rotation guy, even after last season.
Teheran has all the tools to be an “ace” but a few kinks need to be fixed before the 2018 season for it to be a successful one.
To begin with, it was no question that Julio was terrible pitching at SunTrust Park last season. His home-road splits were staggering. In seventeen home starts Teheran posted a 3-10 record with an ERA of 5.86. However, in fifteen road starts Teheran posted an 8-3 record with a 3.14 ERA. There really is no explanation for these numbers. Even trying throwing bullpens on the SunTrust Park mound during the season didn’t seem to help as Julio had just eight quality starts at home. Opposing hitters batted .272 against Teheran at the new stadium. Missed spots plus a hitter friendly park spell disaster for a pitcher and Teheran found out the hard way. Posting a sub 2:1 walk ratio at home didn’t make it any easier. I don’t believe the mound was the problem. I believe it just became a mental issue which is something only Julio can fix.
It goes much deeper than the basic stats that explains Teheran’s 2017 struggles. Julio posted a strike out percentage of 22% in 2016 and that number fell to 18.6% in 2017. So that’s around thirty-two more batters putting the ball in play last season compared to 2016. Part of the reason that number dipped was that Teheran’s walk percentage jumped from 5.4% to 8.9%. The command issues last season from Teheran were clearly a huge reason for his struggles and it could have been from overthrowing as every pitch (Fastball, sinker, and Curve) but his change-up experienced a higher average velocity compared to 2016. One more little stat that may have gone overlooked is Teheran’s incapability finish of hitters on a 3-2 count. In 2017 Teheran faced 94 batters with a 3-2 count and he walked 35 of them (37.2%) and struck-out just twenty of them (21.3%). Compare that to striking out 33% and walking 21.6% of batters in 2016, Teheran just didn’t have that finishing pitch.
I expect Teheran to have a strong 2018 season, because while the numbers seem terrible from last season they can be easily fixed. Teheran needs to trust his stuff and not press so much at SunTrust and pitch loose like he has done in years past. Teheran has never had a blow it by you fastball, but has always had good off speed and good sinker. Teheran needs get back to relying on his spots and movement and pitching loose to get back to his old self.
Bret Anderson | @Bret_A27