Getting the starting pitcher’s nod on opening day isn’t getting old for Julio Teheran.
The right-hander will be making his fourth straight opening day start April 3 when the Atlanta Braves travel to New York to take on the Mets, the Braves announced Sunday. Teheran will be just the third Braves pitcher to make four straight opening day starts since the franchise moved to Atlanta.
“It’s a great honor,” Teheran said after giving up four runs in five innings in a 5-2 exhibition loss to St. Louis on Sunday at ESPN Wide World of Sports’ Champion Stadium. “We’re going to have a good team, and I’m excited to be No. 1, but we’re focusing on (the overall season).”
The Braves’ pitching rotation for the first week of the season will be Teheran, Bartolo Colon, Jaime Garcia, R.A. Dickey and Mike Foltynewicz. Teheran and Foltynewicz are the only two in that rotation to return from last season, with Teheran going 7-10 and Foltynewicz going 9-5.
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The other two Atlanta pitchers to start four straight opening days are Rick Mahler (1985-88) and Greg Maddux (1993-96). The only two NL pitchers with longer active opening day streaks are the Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (six straight) and St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright (four straight).
Braves manager Brian Snitker said the plan is to stick with that five-man rotation beyond the first week of the season.
“Right now, our plan is to maybe stay in order until we look at it further,” Snitker said. “We’re just kind of thinking that giving these guys an extra day isn’t going to hurt overall with the makeup of our staff. We can adjust as we go and see things, but right now that’s kind of the plan.”
Mixed bag for Teheran
After word of the opening day start became public, Teheran went on to have a mixed outing in his first exhibition loss of the spring.
Teheran threw 79 pitches in five innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits while striking out three and walking one. He gave up two runs in the second and one more in the third, innings when miscues in the field led to runs for the Cardinals.
A bobble in center field by Jace Peterson led to the second run scoring in the second, and an errant throw to first by third baseman Rio Ruiz eventually became a run in the third. Teheran also gave up a solo home run to right to Matt Adams to lead off the fourth.
It was his first start since pitching for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic.
“I don’t want to make an excuse, but I kind of feel wear,” Teheran said. “I was kind of inconsistent with my fastball, but it was one of those games where I battled through my five innings. I feel good, that’s the most important thing getting close to the start of the season.”
Shortstop Dansby Swanson returned to the starting lineup Sunday after missing time with a sore back.
While Swanson started out strong in the field, recording a putout and an assist in the first inning, he went on to strike out swinging in the first and third innings. He left the game after four innings.
“He was a little jumpy,” Snitker said. “He hit the homer and everything (on the practice fields Saturday). He felt good, and he was excited about getting back to playing.”
Dickey is expected to start his fourth game of spring training when the Braves host Miami at 1:05 p.m. on Monday at Champion Stadium. The Braves will be looking to snap a six-game losing streak.