Atlanta Braves Photo Day

Julio Teheran to make his major league debut on Saturday


I mentioned earlier that the Eric Hosmer callup is going to interfere with my Friday night plans with the wife. Well, might as well cancel the entire weekend, Mrs. Calcaterra, because on Saturday it’s even better: the Braves have called up top prospect Julio Teheran and will give him the start against the Phillies.

Teheran is not just considered the Braves’ top prospect. According to Keith Law he is the best pitching prospect in all of baseball.  Just 20 years-old, he’s listed as 6’2″, but he is described as having a long and easy delivery with a plus fastball and a great changeup.  So far at AAA Gwinnett the righthander has had five starts. In those five starts he’s 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 30 innings while walking eight. He had a 2.59 ERA and 159/40 K/BB ratio in 142 innings across three levels last year.

Whether this is a permanent callup is an open question. The Braves needed to do something thanks to a rainout and a doubleheader earlier this week. They had penciled in Tommy Hanson on short rest for Sunday, but Atlanta tends not to like giving him short rest.  Another option was Mike Minor, who has at least pitched in the bigs before and would seem like a more likely stopgap starter than Teheran, but he just pitched last night. Given that the Braves’ rotation is otherwise just fine, it’s entirely possible that this is just a one-off for Teheran.

But one-off or not, it’s a formidable opponent in the debut. Going against the Phillies is a tall order, but the fact that he won’t be facing one of the four aces is a plus for him, and hopefully will take some of the pressure off. That is, as long as me and thousands of fellow Braves fanboys squealing like girls at a Beatles concert doesn’t cause any pressure.

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.

Pirates’ Nick Leyva selected as senior advisor of baseball ops

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 17:  Coach Nick Leyva #16 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City on February 17, 2013 in Bradenton, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
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Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.

Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:

The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.

In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.

This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.

Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.

Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:

We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.