There was a time last season when Julio Teheran was central to Braves’ trade rumors. It made little sense at the time for a pitcher with so much promise, but with the front office well into a roster house cleaning the rumors couldn’t easily be dismissed.
Dealing Teheran at the trade deadline in this lost season makes even less sense now, given how he’s pitching. In spring training, he told me, “It sounds weird, but people are looking at me like I’m a veteran.” He pitched like it again Tuesday night, allowing one run and three hits in seven innings with a career-high 12 strikeouts, only to come away with a no decision in a 2-1 loss to Milwaukee.
It was Brian Snitker’s first home game since taking over for Fredi Gonzalez as interim manager last week. Snitker had gone 3-3 on the road. Then came Tuesday’s market correction. The Braves came home and they were zombies again, the loss dropping them to 2-18 at Turner Field.
“We’re trying not to put that pressure on our minds,” Teheran said when asked if the Braves’ home struggles prompt him to feel he has to pitch perfect to win. “We’re just trying to go out there and compete and do what we can do … and we’ll wait for (hitters) to do their job.”
Teheran has been a gem, pitching like he did as an All-Star in 2014. In 10 starts, he is only 1-4 with five no decisions despite an ERA of 2.57. Even more frustrating for him, he is 1-2 with three NDs in his last six starts despite a 0.89 ERA (four earned runs allowed in 40 2/3 innings), with 42 strikeouts and nine walks).
“At some point in time, it’s gotta start going our way,” Snitker said.
Snitker used his seventh lineup in seven games. It’s not because he has unlimited great options with this roster.
This is how a team goes 2-18 at home: In the second inning, the Braves had bases load with none out, only to see Erick Aybar (.177) line into double play at third. (Teheran followed with a ground out.) In the third, Ender Inciarte doubled with one out, but Gordon Beckham and Freddie Freeman followed with strikeouts. In the seventh, Mallex Smith (who had tripled home the Braves’ only run in the fifth) walked and seemingly had second base stolen, but he overslid the bag and was tagged out. That’s the second time this season Smith has done that.
“I guess we’ll have to work on that in spring training,” Snitker said.
The Braves are the lowest-scoring and one of the worst hitting teams (.232) in the majors. They can’t afford to blow the few scoring chances they’ll get. So when Bud Norris replaced Teheran in the eighth, walked the first batter he faced and allowed the go-ahead run — yeah, boom.
Don’t blame Teheran. He’s proving his value. It would be nice if he’s kept around.
MORE: Who will the Braves hire as their permanent manager? They likely won’t stray far from home. Click here to go my column on MyAJC.com
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