The Braves signed Dallas Keuchel because their rotation hasn’t developed as it hoped. But Julio Teheran is certainly not among those concerns.
Teheran, a former All-Star in his own right, packed on muscle and had another promising spring. This time, through at least early June, that’s translated to the regular season.
After teeing off on Marlins pitching Friday, the Braves won a 1-0 barnburner Saturday in Miami. They have their six-time opening day starter to thank.
Teheran was a force yet again, throwing six shutout innings. The righty’s ERA dipped to 3.03. Three of the Braves’ five primary starters have sub-3.70 ERAs.
“Fastball command and the slider has been really, really good,” manager Brian Snitker said. “Overall location has been really, really good all year.”
The right-hander pitched his seventh consecutive game of at least five innings and one or no earned runs. It’s been a swift turnaround for a player many believed wouldn’t even be on the roster come opening day.
“I feel like I have all my pitches,” Teheran said. “I’m commanding my fastball. It’s fun. I just want to keep the same mind(set). I don’t want to get too excited or comfortable. Just keep working and get in my plan, get on the same page and when you have everything like that, it’s fun.”
Now, Teheran looks reminiscent of his 2016 form - according to his catcher - which was his last All-Star season.
“Command is the biggest thing,” backstop Tyler Flowers said. “Command and fastball consistency is the biggest thing. It gives him more margin for error on the off-speed stuff. He has a good feel for the slider. His ability for the four-seam, two-seam fastball has really helped him, too.
“Maybe (it’s the best he’s been since I’ve been here). When I first came to Atlanta in ’16, he was pretty darn good. This is very similar.”
Braves pitching has dismantled a Marlins lineup that’s performed much better than expected recently. Miami scored a team-record-tying 45 runs on their recent six-game road trip. In roughly 48 hours since, the Braves have held them to a single run.
On the other side, Marlins righty Trevor Richards was brilliant. The Braves finally broke through against him in the seventh on a sacrifice fly. Austin Riley’s first hit in eight at-bats this series was a leadoff hustle double. He scored from third on Tyler Flowers’ pop out to right field.
“The big tank was rolling, man,” Snitker said of Riley’s effort.
Freddie Freeman had snapped Richards’ no-hit bid with two outs in the sixth, and after he plucked Josh Donaldson, the Braves were presented a golden scoring chance. Nick Markakis flew out to end the inning.
For most of the night, Richards had little trouble. He retired the first six Braves before walking Ozzie Albies. Ronald Acuna reached on an error later in the third, but Albies was gunned down at third to prevent the threat.
The Braves had two base runners in the fifth – walks to Freeman and Markakis – but Riley’s strikeout spoiled that potential offense. Richards kept the Braves off-balance, stifling a lineup that pounded Marlins starter Jose Urena on Friday.
Miami’s final opportunity to tie came in the eighth, when they had runners at the corners for Brian Anderson. Luke Jackson induced a softly hit grounder that Donaldson scooped up and threw to first, saving the game.
“As I’m running to the ball, I’m trying to see how the runner was getting out of the box,” Donaldson said. “I ended up making the decision to (field it with) the glove because the game was on the line. I knew I had to make sure I possessed the ball and could make the throw. If he beat it out, he beat it out. That’s the risk I was taking.”
The Braves and Marlins conclude the series Sunday, with Max Fried facing Miami righty Pablo Lopez.
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