Tag: Julio Teheran

Wandy Rodriguez

2015 Preview: Atlanta Braves


Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The Atlanta Braves.

The Big Question: Will the Braves be able to overcome an off-season in which they did more subtraction than addition?

Braves outfielders last season combined to hit 57 home runs, drive in 211 runs, and post a .714 OPS. Almost all of the work was done by Justin Upton, Melvin Upton, Jr., and Jason Heyward. However, the Braves traded Justin to the Padres and Heyward to the Cardinals during the off-season, and Melvin will miss most or all of April with a foot injury. Even if he were healthy, he is coming off of two seasons in which he posted a combined .593 OPS with 21 home runs in 1,028 plate appearances.

The Braves’ current outfield is comprised of Nick Markakis (still on the mend from neck surgery after signing a four-year, $44 million deal in early December) and some combination yet to be decided of Eric Young, Jr., Todd Cunningham, Eury Perez, Zoilo Almonte, Kelly Johnson, and Joey Terdoslavich. Whatever posse of outfielders the Braves come up with may seriously struggle to post half the homers and RBI that last season’s outfield put up.

The outfield isn’t the only area where the Braves lack depth. Wandy Rodriguez, who signed with the Phillies and failed a physical before latching on with the Braves, rode a small sample of productive innings to the No. 4 spot in the starting rotation. The fifth spot will go to Eric Stults, Mike Foltynewicz, or Cody Martin and they’ll keep it for as long as Mike Minor – suffering from a tight left shoulder – remains on the disabled list.

The painful departure of Heyward was cushioned a bit in receiving starter Shelby Miller from the Cardinals. However, the 24-year-old right-hander saw noticeable declines in his ability to generate swings and misses, as well as his ability to limit walks. In 2013, his strikeout and walk rates were 23.4 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively. Last season, they were 16.6 percent and 9.6 percent, respectively. Only five pitchers had a strikeout-minus-walk rate lower than Miller’s 7.1 percent: Roberto Hernandez, Jarred Cosart, John Danks, Kyle Gibson, and Chris Young. Not exactly a who’s-who list of pitchers. Of those who posted a similar K%-BB%, which also includes Kyle Kendrick and Mark Buehrle, many are expected to post below-average numbers this season. It would be wrong to state Miller won’t succeed in 2015, but it’ll be tough for him to do so if he can’t improve on his 2014 strikeout and walk rates. As studies have shown, strikeout and walk rates are by far the most accurate statistics with which to predict future pitcher performance.

Overall, it’s tough to see where the Braves are any better going into 2015 than they were last season. FanGraphs projects them to finish as the second-worst team in baseball at 73-89, five games better than the division rival Phillies, who will be more or less intentionally losing in a rebuilding effort. There is a non-zero possibility that the Phillies finish with a better record than the Braves, who are doing a one foot in, one foot out style of rebuilding while also being somewhat competitive.

What else is going on?

  • Freddie Freeman is the only Brave projected by Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS (found at FanGraphs) to hit 20 or more home runs. Melvin Upton is projected at 17, then Zoilo Almonte is at 14 over nearly a full season’s worth of at-bats, which he likely won’t get. As far as slugging percentage goes, which is influenced partially by batting average, Chris Johnson is projected to have the second-highest at .395 behind Freeman’s .472. The conclusion here is that the Braves are going to struggle mightily to generate power.
  • If there is some reason for optimism, it will come from Julio Teheran, now the undisputed ace of the starting rotation. Last season, the right-hander made the National League All-Star roster and finished with a 2.89 ERA and a 186/51 K/BB ratio over 221 innings. It would not be unreasonable to expect him to post All-Star-caliber numbers again in 2015.
  • A year after hitting .321, Chris Johnson ended the 2014 season with a disappointing .263 average and a .653 OPS. While his 2013 average was obviously fluky, he wasn’t expected to tumble 58 points, nor 66 points in on-base percentage and 96 points in slugging percentage. If the Braves are going to have any shot at beating the grim projections, they’ll need Johnson to return close to or at his former All-Star level.
  • 2015 could be the first season since taking over as the Braves’ everyday closer in which Craig Kimbrel will fail to lead the league in saves. The flame-thrower led the NL with 46, 42, 50, and 47 saves from 2011-14. Because the Braves are expected to win so few games, however, Kimbrel’s save chances will be fewer in number. The Braves averaged 89.5 wins over that four year span, affording Kimbrel many opportunities to close out ballgames.
  • As the Braves have their entire core signed to long-term deals, the Braves will likely be quiet at the trade deadline. They may trade a reliever, or one or two of their many utility players, but the Braves will likely end the regular season looking much the same as they will at the beginning.
  • Manager Fredi Gonzalez is signed only through the end of this season. Considering how poorly the Braves are expected to be, Gonzalez is essentially a lame duck manager. And the Braves are just fine with that. The Braves will see how Gonzalez leads a new-look team under recently-hired baseball operations president John Hart before deciding whether to stay the course or move in a new direction.

Prediction: The Braves nudge out the Phillies for the honor of finishing in fourth place in the NL East at 71-91.

Braves to tab Julio Teheran as Opening Day starter

Julio Teheran

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez didn’t make any staunch commitments, but he did say that right-hander Julio Teheran will very likely start on Opening Day, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

“Yeah, I think so,” Gonzalez said. “But I don’t even want to go there, because there’s so much stuff that could happen…. But you know what? He was our best pitcher last year, made the All-Star team last year, and everything being perfect – no injuries, no setbacks, no blisters that could develop; you’ve still got to go out and get five starts (this spring), so a lot of things could happen – but yeah, I think he’d be the most logical choice.”

Teheran, 24, was indeed the Braves’ best starter last season, finishing with a 2.89 ERA and a 186/51 K/BB ratio over 221 innings. He’s entering his third full season as a member of the Braves’ starting rotation, which has a bit of a new look.

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers 2, Braves 1: Ho-hum, complete game with nine strikeouts for Clayton Kershaw, who s now 13-2 with a 1.71 ERA. He needed to be sharp yesterday, though, as Julio Teheran allowed only two runs over eight. Yasiel Puig’s homer in the third proved to be the go-ahead run.

Diamondbacks 7, Pirates 4: Andy Marte — who I was surprised to see is still alive and walking the Earth and playing baseball and stuff — was called up from Reno yesterday and then broke a tie with a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the sixth. Also: the dude is only 30. I have no idea how he is both living and not 48-years-old. I feel like someone ought to investigate this for identity theft or something. I am pretty sure that he was a Braves prospect back when they played in Boston, in fact.

Blue Jays 6, Astros 5: Nolan Reimold hit two home runs, including a tiebreaking solo shot in the ninth. Jose Bautista and Dioner Navarro hit bombs of their own.

Reds 3, Marlins 1: The Reds scored the tying run in the eighth inning on a sac fly thanks to a controversial plate-blocking call. Watch it here. I realize you can’t block the plate without the ball, but Jeff Mathis got the ball while Zack Cozart was, as far as I can tell, still back in biology class in middle school or something. It — along with Johnny Cueto striking out nine and allowing one run in seven innings — decided the game. More on this later this morning at HBT.

Phillies 10, Nationals 4: The Phillies had 17 his and put up a ten-spot, led by Grady Sizemore’s three his and three RBI. But there was bad news for the Phillies too, as Cliff Lee had to leave the game with an elbow injury. He hasn’t been good since he’s been back and now one has to wonders whether he’ll be back at all. On the bright side, this led to one of the more fun pitcher wins ever: Antonio Bastardo came in to relieve Lee in the third. He threw two pitches and was out of the inning. Then he got the W since he was the pitcher of record when the Phillies scored five in the top of the following inning.

Mariners 6, Indians 5: Mike Zunino’s two-run homer in the eighth inning gave ’em the win. Adding Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia gave ’em hope. Good day for Seattle yesterday.

Angels 1 Orioles 0: Tyler Skaggs and six relievers combined on a five-hitter over thirteen innings. Unfortunately for Skaggs, the reason they needed six relievers is that he had to leave the game with forearm tightness in the fifth inning. Had a no-hitter going at the time too. Albert Pujols knocked in the game’s only run in the top of the 13th.

Cardinals 6, Padres 2: Not to be outdone by the Angels, Shelby Miller and three relievers combined on a three-hitter and Miller didn’t have to leave the game with an injury. Oscar Taveras hit a two-run homer.

Royals 6, Twins 3: Yet another game in which the win was overshadowed by an injury. This time Eric Hosmer who fractured his finger. Meanwhile, Alcides Escobar hit a two-run triple and Yordano Ventura allowed only one earned run over seven innings while striking out seven.

Cubs 3, Rockies 1: The Cubs take three of four in the battle of the basement-dwellers. Jake Arrieta struck out seven while allowing one run on three hits.

White Sox 7, Tigers 4: For Detroit the highlight of this game was Austin Jackson having to come out of the game in the middle of an at bat in the seventh inning after being traded to the Mariners in the David Price deal. Nice standing ovation from the crowd as he goes too. Meanwhile, the Tigers lost for the fifth time in six games so, um, yeah, get here soon, Mr. Price.

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 8, Braves 3: A rookie named  Jacob deGrom facing one of the best pitchers in the NL in Julio Teheran? You figure it’d be no contest. And it wasn’t. Just not in the way you’d figure. deGrom struck out 11 in seven shutout innings and he [altogether now] helped his own cause by singling and coming around to score on a double. In other news, the Mets lead all of baseball in players whose surnames begin with lowercase letters.

White Sox 8, Red Sox 3: Sox win. Conor Gillaspie had three hits, including a tie-breaking three-run homer in the sixth. The last place Red Sox have lost seven of eight.

Tigers 14, Dodgers 5: Justin Verlander was tagged for five runs in the first, but then Hyun-Jin Ryu was tagged for seven in the next two and a third. And Detroit didn’t let up then, going on to abuse Jamey Wright, Chris Perez and Paul Maholm too, as they scored 14 unanswered runs. Well, I suppose they were answered by lots of cussing and heavy sighs from Don Mattingly, but that’s all.

Twins 2, Mariners 0: I’m picturing a 90s action movie trailer: “HUGHES!” [explosion sound effect] “FULD!” [explosion sound effect] “BY THEMSELVES, A LOT TO HANDLE.” [explosion sound effect] “TOGETHER, TOO MUCH TO HANDLE!” Phil Hughes shut ’em out on eight hits into the eighth while striking out eight. Sam Fuld was 3 for 3 with a homer.

Reds 4, Cubs 2; Reds 6, Cubs 5: The Reds were down 5-0 themselves in the nightcap of this twin bill, but Jay Bruce, who homered n the first game, doubled home the tying run in the eighth inning of the second and Billy Hamilton’s broken-bat RBI single in the ninth to walk the Reds off. After the game he was kinda jacked: “Let’s play three! I’m ready to go right now!” he said.

Indians 5, Yankees 3: Masahiro Tanaka is starting to look pretty mortal as the season wears on. He took his third loss in his past four starts while allowing five runs on ten hits to the Tribe. Michael Brantley homered, doubled twice and drove in three. His ridiculous season continues as he’s now at .328/.391/.529.

Marlins 2, Diamondbacks 1: Vidal Nuno made his debut for the Dbacks and it went really well for him: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7K. The night didn’t go well for the Dbacks overall, however, as Marcell Ozuna hit a two-run homer in the ninth.

Rockies 2, Padres 1: Charlie Blackmon, about whom who we will one day say “that guy was an All-Star?” hit a two-run homer. Against the 2014 San Diego Padres, about whom we will one day say “that team had major leaguers on it?” that’s all you really need.

Athletics 6, Giants 1: Six wins in a row for the A’s, three losses in a row for Madison Bumgarner. Sonny Gray struck out eight and allowed one run over seven. The series now shifts across the Bay to San Francisco.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Wednesday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on WednesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Cardinals 5, Pirates 4: Two straight walkoff homers for the Cards. On Monday it was Matt Adams. Last night it was Kolten Wong. And it wasn’t a cheapie: he hit the thing 420 feet.

Blue Jays 4, Angels 0: Oh Dickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind HEY DICKEY! [clap clap, clap-clap] HEY DICKEY! [clap clap, clap-clap]. Seven shutout innings for R.A., 4 for 5 and three RBI for Jose Reyes.

What? You write a couple thousand of these recaps a year and see if you don’t reach for something once in a damn while.

Phillies 9, Brewers 7: Down 5-1 after the first inning, the Phillies broke out for five more in the second, one in the third and two in the fifth for their biggest offensive outburst in some time. Domonic Brown homered and had a two-run single.

Astros 8, Rangers 3: Chris Carter had two homers, leading off innings with both of them, and George Spring led off another inning with a bomb. That’s two in a row off Texas in this series and four against them overall. If they beat the Rangers today, Texas will fall into a last place tie with Houston.

Rays 4, Royals 3: Jeremy Hellickson made his season debut. It wasn’t a long one — he only lasted four and a third — but he only gave up one run. Kansas City left 11 dudes on base.

Orioles vs. Nationals: POSTPONED: Nobody feels any pain. Tonight as I stand inside the rain. Everybody knows, that Baby’s got new clothes. But lately I see her ribbons and her bows have fallen from her curls.

The 2014 All-Star rosters have been announced

Jose Bautista

Here are your starters for each league in the 2014 All-Star Game, held at Target Field in Minnesota on July 15.

American League Position Players

  • C: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (replacing Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles due to injury)
  • 1B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
  • 2B: Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
  • 3B: Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics
  • SS: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
  • OF: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
  • OF: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anahem
  • OF: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
  • DH: Nelson Cruz, Baltimore Orioles

Jose Bautista was the leading vote-getter in the AL with 5.85 million. Trout had the second-most with 5.56 million.

[ MORE: Chris Sale, Anthony Rizzo among those on All-Star game Final Vote list ]

Nothing too shocking here. Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion were also worthy candidates at first base. One could argue that Ian Kinsler and Jose Altuve were both better starting options at second base. Donaldson was snubbed last season, so it’s good to see him get some respect this season. Obviously, Jeter got the starting nod in his final season before heading off into retirement. In any other season, Alcides Escobar or Erick Aybar get the starting spot at short. The outfield was quite crowded, but it’s hard to argue with those three. Maybe Michael Brantley over Jones.

National League Position Players

  • C: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
  • 1B: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
  • 2B: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
  • 3B: Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers
  • SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
  • OF: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • OF: Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers
  • OF: Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers

Troy Tulowitzki got the most votes in the NL, with 5.35 million.

Brewers fans won’t be happy with Molina starting over Jonathan Lucroy, given recent history. Can’t argue with Goldschmidt at first. Utley was by far the best second baseman over the first two months, but has slumped terribly over the last six weeks, so his numbers are comparable to the rest of the top NL second basemen. Todd Frazier has been the best third baseman in the NL, but not by enough where it’s a travesty that Ramirez got the nod over him. Giancarlo Stanton is an obvious omission in the starting outfield, but he was told he’ll be the NL’s starting DH.

The pitchers and reserves:

American League Pitchers

  • Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
  • Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
  • Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
  • Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
  • Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox
  • David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Scott Kazmir, Oakland Athletics
  • Mark Buehrle, Toronto Blue Jays


  • Sean Doolittle, Oakland Athletics
  • Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals
  • Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins
  • Dellin Betances, New York Yankees

Chris Sale is a notable omission, though he has only logged 87 1/3 innings this season due to injury. Garrett Richards, Corey Kluber, Dallas Keuchel, Sonny Gray, Rick Porcello, and Chris Archer are all on the cusp. You’ll see some of them in the Final Vote. Manager John Farrell will have a tough choice deciding who to start.

There are a ton of deserving relievers but only four spots, so it’s tough to hate the selections. Koji Uehara, Fernando Rodney, and David Robertson are three of a bushel of American League relievers who deserve recognition.

National League Pitchers

  • Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
  • Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
  • Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres
  • Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals
  • Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves
  • Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs (now with the Oakland Athletics; will be inactive for the All-Star Game)


  • Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
  • Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds
  • Tony Watson, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers
  • Pat Neshek, St. Louis Cardinals

A few deserving NL starters were left out: Henderson Alvarez, Josh Beckett, Tim Hudson, Cole Hamels, Madison Bumgarner. On the relieving side, Huston Street, Rafael Soriano, and Jonathan Papelbon are on the outside looking in despite fantastic seasons as their respective teams’ closers.

American League Reserves

  • C: Derek Norris, Oakland Athletics
  • C: Kurt Suzuki, Minnesota Twins
  • 1B: Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays (injured yesterday, likely to be replaced)
  • 1B: Brandon Moss, Oakland Athletics
  • 1B: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
  • 2B: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
  • 3B: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
  • SS: Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox
  • OF: Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians
  • OF: Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics
  • OF: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
  • DH: Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers

National League Reserves

  • C: Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers
  • C: Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati Reds
  • 1B: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
  • 2B: Dee Gordon, Los Angeles Dodgers
  • 2B: Daniel Murphy, New York Mets
  • 3B: Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
  • 3B: Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds
  • SS: Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs
  • OF: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
  • OF: Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • OF: Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants
  • OF: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies