Teheran deserved chance to finish game

Macon TelegraphApril 17, 2014 

Well, as Julio Teheran started the 9th inning Wednesday, I was holding my breath. He had been tremendous up to that point with no trouble at all, but we all know how manager Fredi Gonzalez can have a quick hook.

Was he going to allow Teheran to finish his masterpiece, even after he allowed a base runner, the tying run, with the Braves up only 1-0?

I would have bet no. Maybe it was because closer Craig Kimbrel is dealing with shoulder issues and Gonzalez did not want Kimbrel out there in the cold weather. But hopefully it was more of his confidence in Teheran to finish the job himself.

So we must give Gonzalez credit, regardless of the reason. He did allow Teheran to finish his complete game shutout. That gives Teheran tremendous confidence moving forward, since as I point out Wednesday in my column, starting pitchers do like to finish what they start.

Teheran continues to show that he's evolving into an ace pitcher. Remember how he struggled to start the 2013 season? He allowed 13 earned runs in his first 16 innings of the first three starts last year. Since then, Teheran has allowed 59 earned runs on 175 hits in 197.2 innings pitched. That's an earned run average of 2.69.

I still believe the struggles Teheran had when he repeated Triple-A Gwinnett in 2012 made him a better pitcher. He had sailed through the minor leagues, with an ERA of 2.96 in his first four seasons and a 2.55 ERA in the previous season in Gwinnett. But then Teheran went 7-9 with a 5.08 ERA in 26 starts two years ago. It's not always great for a player to have no setbacks in the minors. Adversity can make them better players in the long run.

We are seeing why this kid was compared to Pedro Martinez in his younger days and why many believed he would be an ace pitcher in the majors. He's good, and thankfully for the Braves, they have him locked up for a very long time (through 2020 with the team option).

* The Braves starters continue to have the best ERA in baseball, at 1.62. The next closest team is Oakland with a 2.48 mark. The Braves starting pitchers have allowed only 16 runs in 14 games and have allowed three runs or more only once this season - when David Hale gave up three runs against the Mets on April 10.

* Offensively, Evan Gattis has been the story the last few days. He's 10-17 in his last four games with 3 home runs and 6 runs batted in. He had started the season 4-20. He definitely loves hitting in Philadelphia, with 5 home runs in 6 games at Citizen's Bank Park.

* And will Andrelton Simmons ever strike out? This is impressive. Simmons has not struck out in 49 plate appearances.

* We are all waiting for Jason Heyward to get going at the plate. He is hitting only .145 - 8 hits in 14 games. His on base percentage is .288 and his slugging percentage is .273. Heyward could have given the Braves some needed insurance in the game Wednesday night but struck out.

Take away his three hits last Wednesday and Heyward is hitting only .096 this season.

Heyward has always started seasons slowly. He's got a .220 career average in the month of April and a .222 average in his career in the first two months of the season. But from June through September, Heyward's average is .273.

Heyward continues to have issues against left-handed pitchers. He's only 1-for-17 this season against southpaws and now has a .228 mark in his career against lefties. He's so valuable in the field that there's no way he would ever be platooned, but the numbers against left-handed pitchers are alarming.

 

Listen to "The Bill Shanks Show" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http:www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

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