On Tuesday, July 10, the Blue Jays will play the first game of a quick two-game series against the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta will send young right-hander Julio Teheran to the mound. The Blue Jays plan to counter with their own young right-hander, Marcus Stroman.
Julio Teheran was once an exciting prospect for the Atlanta Braves. After a great 2016—when he posted a 3.21 ERA, 3.69 FIP, and 1.96 BB/9—the righty was pencilled in as a major piece in the rebuild. However, he was unable to follow up this all-star season in 2017. Instead, the pitcher posted a 4.49 ERA, 4.95 WHIP, and 3.4 BB/9.
The latest set-back for the 27 year old has been an injury to his right thumb. Officially a right thumb contusion, the right-handed hurler was kept on the shelf for just ten days.
The Colombian native’s greatest problem this year has been consistency. For example, in seventeen starts for Atlanta, he has allowed no earned runs five times, but has also allowed 4+ earned runs seven times.
There is one recurring trend in these inconsistent numbers: In starts when he has allowed three earned runs or less, six have been on the road. While at home, he has been bad, posting a 5.15 ERA. However, on the road he has been much more serviceable, posting a 3.86 ERA. Also somewhat confusingly, the teams that he has struggled the most against—the Baltimore Orioles (13.50 ERA) and Miami Marlins (10.80)—are some of the worst teams in baseball.
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By far the most confusing numbers that Teheran has posted, though, have come against the eighth-hitter in the line-up. Playing in the National League, there is almost no reason for a starting pitcher to give a good pitch to an eight-hitter (as he has the pitcher behind him). Yet, the right-hander has allowed a .706 SLG against the eight-hole this season.
The right-handed hurler has plenty of confusing splits on the season. However, with one quick look at his numbers, it is clear that he has not played well this year. Through seventeen starts the Atlanta starter has posted a 4.47 ERA, 5.22 FIP, 1.241 WHIP, and 89 ERA+. Even worse, the hurler has been perfectly replaceable, posting a 0.0 fWAR.
To attain these numbers the right-hander has mixed between a four seam fastball, sinker, slider, change-up, and curveball. While he offers five different pitches, the righty is primarily a fastball-slider specialist.
Teheran has featured his four seam fastball 43.4% of the time this season. The heater is not that fast, posting an average velocity of 90.55 mph. The fastball has also not fared well this season, allowing seven home runs and a .234 ISO against. In fact, the four seamer has allowed one more extra-base hit (16) than single (15) this season.
The right-handed hurler has offered up sinkers 23.2% of the time this season. The sinking-fastball is slightly slower than the four seamer, posting an average velocity of 89.83 mph. However, it has produced a good groundball rate of 53.03% of balls in play. Furthermore, it has stymied opposing batters well, posting a .185 BAA.
Teheran has thrown his slider 19.6% of the time this season. The breaking ball does not have much breaking action, but it has produced whiffs at a great rate of 45.59% of swings. While the slider has allowed just two singles, it has coughed up seven doubles and three home runs.
His pitching repertoire is rounded out with a change-up and a curveball. The change and curve have been used 8.5% and 5.5% of the time, respectively. The change has been bad, posting a .548 SLGA with three home runs. However, somewhat amazingly, the hook has been even worse, allowing a .667 BAA, 1.778 SLGA, and three home runs.
The righty does not strike out enough batters to make up for his walk trouble. On the season he has posted a 22.5% K-rate and 8.45 K/9. Neither number is terrible, but these numbers need to be better if the pitcher plans to keep his ugly 11.6% BB-rate and 4.37 BB/9.
Sun-Trust Park is, without a doubt, a hitter’s park. This has hurt their starter, though, as the hurler has allowed a 16.2% HR/FB rate. This number should eventually correct itself, and his 4.69 xFIP and 4.60 SIERA suggest that the twenty-seven-year-old may have a good second half ahead of him.
The Blue Jays have great numbers against the Colombia native. Yangervis Solarte has managed six hits, including a triple and home run, in fourteen at-bats. As well, Aledmys Diaz is three-for-four with a walk in his career against the righty. Even Curtis Granderson, who has just eight hits in 35 at-bats, has managed a .391 OBP and .514 SLG in his career against Teheran.
The Blue Jays should take their opportunity to measure up, and tee off of a struggling pitcher that is out of his element (at home). Perhaps memories of his home run last year will help Stroman bounce back from his last poor start, as well.