Previewing Teheran vs. Fernandez and considering 1st-pitch Freddie

Tonight’s series finale against the Marlins has the potential to be one of those must-see matchups that pitching purists crave, with 2016 All-Stars Julio Teheran and Jose Fernandez facing off as the season winds down.

The usually dominant Jose Fernandez has been knocked around a bit in some recent starts, beginning with one at Turner Field in July when he gave up a career-high nine runs. (AP file photo)

The usually dominant Jose Fernandez has been knocked around a bit in some recent starts, beginning with one at Turner Field in July when he gave up a career-high nine runs. (AP file photo)

Only question is, which Fernandez will we see? The one who is all but unbeatable and often unhittable at Marlins Park, or the one who’s struggled inexplicable in a few outings this season, particularly on the road, including one memorable mid-summer afternoon against the Bravos at Turner Field?

(For that matter, which Teheran will we see? If it’s the pitcher who appears to have gotten things back in order in his past few starts, after an erratic period when he was dealing with a couple of injuries, then the Braves should have a pretty good chance, even against Fernandez. Teheran, alas, has been the only starting pitcher the Brave can much count on lately. But that’s a subject for a future blog.)

Fernandez is 3-6 with a 4.46 ERA and .265 opponents’ average in 12 road starts, compared to 11-2 with a 1.77 ERA and .199 OA in 15 home starts.

The often-overpowering Cuban is an uncharacteristic 4-5 with a 3.72 ERA and .268 opponents’ average in 12 starts since the beginning of July, despite a dominant ratio of 100 strikeouts with 23 walks in 72 2/3 innings.

That stretch began with a loss to the Braves at Turner Field on July 2 when he was charged with eight hits and a career-high nine runs (six earned) in 5 2/3 innings, including home runs by Freddie Freeman and Jace Peterson. That was the first time he gave up multiple homers this season.

Since that day in Atlanta, Fernandez has had three more games in which he gave up five or more earned runs in fewer than six innings, most recently in a Sept. 3 loss at Cleveland when he was charged with 12 hits and seven runs (six earned) in 5 2/3 innings. He bounced back from that bad outing to strike out 14 in seven scoreless innings Friday in a home win against the Dodgers, allowing just three hits and three walks.

In eight starts against the Braves, Fernandez is 4-2 with a 2.96 ERA, .184 opponents’ average and 58 strikeouts with 12 walks in 51 2/3 innings. He’s 1-1 with a 6.11 ERA in his past three starts against them, a pair of starts in which he gave up six runs in fewer than six innings and a June 21 game in Miami where allowed just one hit and two walks with seven strikeouts in seven scoreless innings but got no decision. The Braves won that 3-2 game in 10 innings.

He’s 1-2 with a 3.65 ERA in four career starts at Turner Field with a stunning 36 strikeouts and four walks in 24 2/3 innings.

Against Fernandez, Freeman is 7-for-20 with two homers, Nick Markakis is 4-for-10 with a homer, Peterson is 2-for-10 with a homer and Matt Kemp is 2-for-8.

Since giving up 11 hits and six runs in six innings of an Aug. 24 start at Arizona, Teheran has gone 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA and .211 opponents’ average in his past three starts, collecting 18 strikeouts with four walks in 19 innings.

Teheran is 1-5 in 15 home starts despite a 3.15 home ERA with 85 strikeouts and 23 walks in 91 1/3 innings. The Braves are 2-13 in those games and scored just under 2.9 runs per nine innings that Teheran has pitched at home.

They have, however, scored 11 runs during the 13 innings he’s been in the game over his past two home starts, after scoring a total of just 18 runs while he was in the game during his previous 13 home starts.

Teheran’s last start against the Marlins was his worst of the season at Turner Field, a 7-5, 12-inning loss July 1 when he was charged with 11 hits, five runs and two homers in 6 2/3 innings and got no decision. That’s one of only two home starts this season where Teheran gave up more than three runs, earned or otherwise.

After going 5-1 with a 2.69 ERA in his first 11 starts against the Marlins, Teheran is 0-2 with a 5.00 ERA in his past three against them, including 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two this season.

Against Teheran, Marcell Ozuna is 14-for-33 (.424) with two homers, Christian Yelich is 11-for-32, Justin Bour is 4-for-11 with a homer, Martin Prado is 9-for-25, Derek Dietrich is 4-for-14 with two homers, Adeiny Hechavarria 8-for-33 and Giancarlo Stanton is 4-for-30 (.133) with two homers, four walks and 11 strikeouts.

• First-pitch Freddie: Ten of Freddie Freeman’s 30 home runs have come on first pitches, where he’s always been aggressive but this season has been particularly aggressive and extremely effective. When he puts the first pitch in play, he’s hitting a jaw-dropping .500 (40-for-80) with 21 extra-base hits, 20 RBIs and a 1.025 slugging percentage.

Freeman has swung at 268 of 634 first pitches this season, the second-highest percentage (42.3) in the NL behind Arizona’s Yasmany Tomas (51 percent). Freeman is tied (with Milwaukee’s Scooter Gennett) for the league lead in batting average (.500) when he puts the first pitch in play. And that first-pitch slugging percentage … wow.

By the way, remember early this season when almost all of Freeman’s homers were coming with bases empty? That’s not been the case during this three-plus-month hitting binge he’s been on.

His first-inning homer Tuesday, which gave him his first 30-homer season (career high before this year was 23) was a two-run shot that made it 13 homers with at least one runner on base for Freeman, compared to 17 with bases empty.

• Let’s close with this one by Sixteen Horsepower off their 2002 album, Folklore.

“OUTLAW SONG” by Sixteen Horsepower

Sixteen Horsepower

Sixteen Horsepower

early one days morning
I came upon a fine young horse
I mounted up and led him onward
he was gray as the sky above
as the sky above

I slept down by the river
and what a sad dream i had
I’m afraid my love
it must be true
today I will go and leave you
today I will be gone

I awoke and was surrounded
nine of the law stood before me
askin me my name and business
demanding proof of me
demanding proof of me
proof of me

what do you want from me
would you have me your prisoner
no but you must give us that horse
you must give us that roan gray horse

listen he aint for sale
never for the law to ride
if that should happen none would be safe
even the birds
even the birds
would be afraid to fly

so they ask again what was my name they ask again what was my name
two were dead before they could move
two were dead before they could move
thats my name
thats my name
if you please
thats my name
thats my name
if you please

 


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