Julio Teheran: Anchor of young Braves rotation

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Photo by Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

By Rich Mancuso

Julio Teheran may want to change uniforms next season because of his success at Citi Field.  Tuesday night, the Atlanta Braves righthander once again took care of business against the New York Mets on the mound.

Teheran the 25-year old non-drafted free agent from Cartagena, Colombia, signed by the Braves as a 16-year old, has become the veteran of a young pitching staff.  The Braves with their fourth consecutive win are playing for pride and building, but Teheran is pitching with a similar attitude of being in a September pennant race.

His seven innings were enough for the Braves, despite one strikeout. More so, his domination of the Mets continued, 2-0 against the wild card contending team this season with an ERA under 1.00.  One would say, Teheran should be with a contender getting through the September grind of a pennant race, but manager Brian Snitker considers his starter as the anchor.

The Braves won their second straight over the wild card contending Mets, and Teheran was the culprit again at Citi Field.  There is this domination of the Mets that Teheran seems to command as good as his pitches on the mound, and he does it well at Citi Field.

“He’s good at what he does,”  manager Brian Snitker said. “We scored some runs for him.”  The difference maker was a three-run homer from Adonis Garcia in the seventh inning that earned Teheran his sixth win.

But the difference maker for the young Braves pitching staff, one that is a part of their rebuilding process, is the first time All-Star who is resembling a crafty veteran at his young age.

“It’s the best teacher they have to watch, one of their peers do it right,” says the manager. “How they prepare, it’s good they have somebody to fall back on. I saw him talk to one of the young pitchers the other day.”

The talk is being a mentor to the young pitchers in the clubhouse.

“If they don’t use it, it’s their own fault,” Snitker said, “because he’s been through the wars.  He knows how to do it. He’s like the older statesman here, the star. He’s the only guy we got. He can tell a teammate how to do it. It’s huge.”

Getting into the seventh was huge for Teheran.  The fastball and breaking ball were effective in consecutive starts.

But it should not be this way in this September stretch for the Mets.The Braves hurt them again and they resemble a team fighting for the division title. Instead, Terry Collins and his Mets woke up Wednesday morning with knowledge there is now a three-way tie with the Giants and Cardinals for the two wild card spots in the National League.

But when you don’t hit, and again the Mets are in that syndrome, it can be Teheran or any other other pitcher on the mound at Citi Field that will resemble Cy Young.

Teheran said about his success against the Mets, and at Citi Field, “I stick with a plan that I use against them two times.  I didn’t like it (Citi Field), now it’s one of my favorites.”

He is not a strikeout pitcher and has allowed two or fewer earned runs in 17 of his last 28 starts.  Against the Mets, he got the ball on the ground and was able to command the pitches. He got the fastball up and some inside that mattered.

“Strikeouts don’t matter to me,” he said about a season low. “We got the win and that is more important.” Teheran retired 15 of the final 16 Mets before departing the game.  

“That was huge for us,” added Snitker.  What is more important, and for the Braves it does matter, is how Teheran has become that anchor and during this rebuilding stage there is no inclination that he becomes a commodity to help another team.

Teheran said, “ I am comfortable here. To help this team win some games and a win tonight I can take it into next year.”

But, he can’t pitch every game against the Mets and at Citi Field, unless the Mets who have become good trade partners with the Braves decide to do some wheeling and dealing as their young arms have suddenly become a question mark.

To that, Teheran said, “This is a business.” Meaning, you never know if his future could be in New York. In the meantime, he gets the ball again in a few days and the Braves will look for more wins in their final few games of the season.

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