When he signed a pro contract back in 2007, Julio Teheran was only 16 years old. But even then, at that young age, the comparisons to Pedro Martinez were being made.
Now, seven years later, Teheran is pitching like Martinez. He had one hiccup two weeks ago in San Francisco, mainly because he couldn’t grip the ball properly, but that’s been the only blemish on what has been a tremendous season so far for the 23-year-old.
Teheran pitched six more shutout innings Sunday, as he limited the Colorado Rockies to four hits. He walked one and struck out seven and lowered his earned run average to 1.77. It was Teheran’s fourth win of the season and he’s not allowed a run in his last 15 innings pitched.
Teheran now has quality starts (six or more innings with three or fewer earned runs allowed) in all but one game (the one in San Francisco) this season. It’s almost like the bad start against the Giants made Teheran mad or something.
“I’m sure he’s forgotten about that,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez. “He gets his work in and he’s ready to go for his next start.”
“I know that happens sometimes,” Teheran said. “I just concentrated on my next two games and I’m trying to do my job. I know I had a hard time, but I had to forget about that and just concentrate on this one.”
Teheran seems to do better when he runs into a jam. In the second inning Sunday, Teheran allowed a one-out single to Charlie Culberson and then D.J. LeMahieu reached on an error by second baseman Tyler Pastornicky. After a sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third, Teheran got Charlie Blackmon to ground out to end the inning.
Then in the sixth inning, he allowed a base hit and then a walk. But after a visit from catcher Evan Gattis, Teheran struck out Wilin Rosario on three pitches to end the inning and get out of more trouble.
“It’s unbelievable,” said his catcher, Evan Gattis. “But that’s him. He’s always done that. He’s fiery. He’s competitive.”
Teheran joined the rotation full-time last season, and when he started 2013 some wondered if he needed even more time in the minor leagues. He gave up 13 earned runs in 16 innings pitched in his first three starts of the season.
But then Teheran took off. He had a 2.81 earned run average in his remaining 27 starts last season. Teheran allowed 152 hits in 169.2 innings pitched, 53 earned runs, 38 walks and 158 strikeouts.
So since his fourth start last season through Sunday’s start against the Rockies, Teheran has an ERA of 2.49 in his last 38 starts.
Teheran seems to be getting better the more he pitches. For example, in his first four starts this season, Teheran struck out 13 batters in 28 innings. But in his last seven starts, Teheran has 48 strikeouts in 48.1 innings pitched.
Teheran is also establishing himself as someone who likes to pitch at Turner Field. In 158.2 lifetime innings at home, Teheran has an ERA of 2.78.
Teheran is actually having his success a bit earlier than Martinez did. It wasn’t until 1997, when Martinez was 25-years-old, that he had his first outstanding season. Martinez had a 1.90 ERA and 13 complete games for the Expos that season, which was his last before they traded him to the Boston Red Sox.
When starting pitchers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy went down with elbow issues in spring training, the Braves hoped someone would step up and become the team’s number one starter. But Teheran is doing more than that. He’s becoming a legitimate ace pitcher, and it’s likely those who saw Teheran back when he was a 16-year-old will tell you they’re not surprised one bit.
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