Both Alex Wood and Julio Teheran pitched similarly well in their first 2014 starts for the Atlanta Braves, Teheran on Monday and Wood Tuesday. But results were very different.
Wood, after throwing 93 pitches (55 for strikes) in seven innings of work, came away with a win, as the Braves beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2. Wood gave up five hits, struck out five and allowed one earned run, a leadoff home run to Carlos Gomez on the first pitch of the game.
Teheran threw six innings on Monday and gave up seven hits, two earned runs and struck out two. But Teheran lost.
While Wood’s start was the more impressive, both were quality starts and deserved a winning outcome.
The Braves scored five runs for Wood on the power of two solo bombs from Freddie Freeman and a two-run blast by Jason Heyward. Teheran only got five hits from Atlanta hitters on Monday, and zero runs.
When starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy were lost in March to Tommy John surgery, panic began to set in. With Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd still rehabbing their own injuries and not available to the Braves until late April or possibly early May, the condition of Atlanta’s rotation was definitely a question mark.
After two starts, consider the Braves’ rotation OK.
Atlanta brought in Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang after the Medlen and Beachy injuries to help, but neither has pitched yet through two games of the 2014 season. Two guys that were around last season in Teheran and Wood have restored hope—at least as much as hope can be instilled in just two games—that all can be normal on the mound for the Braves this season.
Atlanta’s team ERA last season was 3.18, the best in the business. The Braves also finished second with 102 quality starts and sixth in opponent’s batting average (.244).
The Braves, through two games, have a team 2.00 ERA, are a perfect 2-for-2 as both Teheran and Wood have qualified for quality starts, and are holding opponents (just the Brewers thus far) to a .237 batting average.
Atlanta’s bullpen has been strong, just like the starters. Closer Craig Kimbrel struck out all three batters he faced and saved Wood’s gem on Tuesday. Gus Schlosser and Ian Thomas on Monday combined to pitch two scoreless innings and gave up just one hit.
The only blemish on Atlanta’s bullpen thus far has been David Carpenters’ earned run in the eighth inning Tuesday, as Aramis Ramirez singled to score Gomez. But that was just a blip, no real damage was done.
All the same stars from last year’s staff won’t be around in 2014, but Teheran and Wood have offered reason to think the Braves won’t suffer when it comes to pitching. If the hot-and-cold hitting can shift more toward the hot side and offer some run support, it’s not crazy to think the Braves can replicate their success of 2013.