Braves’ Teheran looks to cap his solid second half

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Julio Teheran is 0-5 with a 7.36 ERA in five career starts vs. Dodgers entering Wednesday's matchup. (AJC file photo)

 

A season that began rather nightmarish for Julio Teheran, at least whenever the Braves left Atlanta, has turned out reasonably well following a midseason turnaround that involved shifting his position on the pitching rubber and going back to being aggressive.

(Why the shift in position on the rubber helped him eliminate the great disparity between his home and road numbers, I frankly don’t  know. But his overall performance no doubt improved significantly after the adjustment. So I don’t spend much time trying to understand why, since I’m not sure even he’s really sure. Baseball can be a strange game, ya know?)

Julio Teheran makes his final start of the 2015 season in Friday night's series opener against the Cardinals, weather permitting. (Getty Images)

Julio Teheran makes his final start of the 2015 season in Friday night’s series opener against the Cardinals, weather permitting. (Getty Images)

Anyway, Teheran will try to finish off his second-half resurgence with a win tonight when he makes his final start of the year in a series opener against the Cardinals, weather permitting. He’ll face left-hander Jaime Garcia (10-5, 2.36 ERA), another in the assortment of lefties the Braves have faced recently after going for weeks at time without facing one for much of the season.

That first-half performance by Teheran, the Braves’ two-time Opening Day starter, set off some alarm bells in the front office, as he went 5-4 with a 4.94 ERA and .279 opponents’ average in 16 starts during April-June. But then, as if a switch had been flipped – or that shift on the pitching rubber – in 16 starts during July-September Teheran is 5-4 with a 3.42 ERA and .228 opponents’ average .

“Yeah, I feel really good the way I’ve been throwing,” Teheran said after his start last week at Miami, when he gave up two runs in six innings.

That game at Marlins Park was one of two losses (of his four total) in the second half that came in quality starts when the Braves scored one run while Teheran was in the game.

Or, what Shelby Miller calls a regular day at the office.

Eight of 38 earned runs allowed by Teheran in his past 16 starts came in 4 1/3 innings against the Yankees on Aug. 30. In five starts since then he has a 1.91 ERA and .210 opponents’ average, but only a 1-1 record due to run support – the Braves scored one run while he was in three of those five games. Or, pretty solid support by Shelby Miller standards.

No, but seriously, you could consider this an inevitable evening-out from the first half, when Teheran’s run support ranked at or near the top of the league and kept his record above .500 despite his early struggles.

Teheran is 7-2 with a 3.06 ERA and .210 opponents’ average in 16 home starts, compared to 3-6 with a 5.40 ERA and .298 OA in 16 road starts. But as mentioned, that disparity came during the first months of the season: Through the end of July, Teheran was 5-0 with a 2.04 ERA in eight home starts and 1-4 with a 7.40 ERA in nine road starts.

Since the beginning of July, he’s gone 2-2 with a 3.14 ERA and .217 opponents’ average in seven road starts. He’s remained consistently good at home throughout the season, his only bad start coming against the Yankees. In his other 15 home starts, he’s 7-1 with a 2.46 ERA.

Teheran has a 2.77 ERA and .152 opponents’ average in two starts against St. Louis but only an 0-1 record to show for it, as the Braves scored a total of one run during the 13 innings he pitched in those two games, both in 2013.

Against Teheran, Matt Carpenter is 2-for-7 with a homer. The only other Cardinals with as many as five official at-bats against him are Matt Holiday (1-for-6) and Yadier Molina (0-for-6).

Teheran’s opponent tonight, Garcia, has a similar home-road disparity, albeit good results regardless. Garcia is 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA in nine road starts, compared to 5-2 with a 1.70 ERA in 10 home starts.

Lefties have hit .247 in 97 at-bats against Garcia, and righties have hit just .214 with three homers and a .282 slugging percentage in 355 at-bats.

After going 6-4 with a stingy 1.77 ERA and .200 opponents’ average in his first 13 starts, Garcia is 4-1 with a 3.69 ERA and .263 opponents’ average in his past six. And after giving up 10 runs in 10 2/3 innings over consecutive road starts Sept. 10 and Sept. 16, he’s posted a 1.20 ERA in his past two starts, allowing 12 hits, two runs and two walks with 13 strikeouts in 15 innings of those home games against Cincinnati and Milwaukee.

Garcia is 2-0 with a 3.98 ERA in five starts against the Braves, but only one in the past three seasons (a no-decision in May 2014, when he allowed four runs  and two homers in seven innings at St. Louis).

It’s another day, like yesterday against Strasburg, when the Braves might miss having Freddie Freeman in the lineup — he’s 4-for-7 with two homers off Garcia. Michael Bourn is 7-for-12 against him and Cameron Maybin is 3-for-10 with a homer.

Let’s close with this classic from one of the greatest blues singers that ever lived, and man did she live: Bessie Smith, ladies and gentlemen.

“ST. LOUIS BLUES” by Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith

I hate to see that evening sun go down
I hate to see that evening sun go down
‘Cause my lovin’ baby done left this town

If I feel tomorrow like I feel today
If I feel tomorrow like I feel today
I’m gonna pack my trunk and make my getaway

Oh, that St. Louis woman with her diamond rings
She pulls my man around by her apron strings
And if it wasn’t for powder and her store-bought hair
Oh, that man of mine wouldn’t go nowhere

I got those St. Louis blues, just as blue as I can be
Oh, my man’s got a heart like a rock cast in the sea
Or else he wouldn’t have gone so far from me

I love my man like a schoolboy loves his pie
Like a Kentucky colonel loves his rocker and rye
I’ll love my man until the day I die, Lord, Lord

I got the St. Louis blues, just as blue as I can be, Lord, Lord
That man’s got a heart like a rock cast in the sea
Or else he wouldn’t have gone so far from me

I got those St. Louis blues
I got the blues, I got the blues, I got the blues
My man’s got a heart like a rock cast in the sea
Or else he wouldn’t have gone so far from me, Lord, Lord


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