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Teheran wants to build off '15 late-season success

Twenty-five-year old is aiming to make third straight Opening Day start for Braves
MLB.com @mlbbowman

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Though he is just 25 years old as he prepares for his fourth full Major League season, Julio Teheran has already earned an impressive level of trust with the Braves' coaching staff.

"If I see Julio on one field throwing, I go to the opposite end of the field to see a couple of the younger guys throw," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I expect to see [Teheran] throw like he did for the final two months of last season."

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Though he is just 25 years old as he prepares for his fourth full Major League season, Julio Teheran has already earned an impressive level of trust with the Braves' coaching staff.

"If I see Julio on one field throwing, I go to the opposite end of the field to see a couple of the younger guys throw," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I expect to see [Teheran] throw like he did for the final two months of last season."

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Though he is prepping to make his third consecutive Opening Day start for the Braves, Teheran actually does have something to prove, as he is coming off a year in which he produced a 4.04 ERA over 33 starts. He struggled throughout the season's first four months and then spent the final two months looking more like the pitcher that posted a 3.03 ERA over 63 starts from 2013-14.

"I'm just trying to take the good things that I learned last year," Teheran said. "I know that I finished the way that I wanted, and that's I'm taking into this year.

"I still have in my mind what I learned. Now that I have more experience, I understand when I need to make adjustments, and I can do it myself. Whenever I do something bad, I recognize it. That's part of growing up. This is my fourth year here, and I feel like I can make my adjustments."

Video: STL@ATL: Teheran notches win in final start of 2015

Teheran produced a 4.71 ERA through his first 21 starts, and he and pitching coach Roger McDowell spent countless hours attempting to make necessary adjustments. They toyed with his arm slot, and they decided to have Teheran attempt to regain some aggression by using his four-seam fastball in situations in which he had previously been relying on his two-seamer.

But Teheran did not gain consistent results until he moved back to the first-base side of the pitching rubber -- a move that made his two-seamer's sink more effective and enabled him to have more consistent command on the arm side of the plate.

"That's where I was missing at the beginning of the year," Teheran said. "When I went to the first-base side of the rubber, I was commanding more on that side."

Despite allowing eight earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings against the Yankees on Aug. 30, Teheran produced a 2.95 ERA over the 12 starts he made after Aug. 1.

Even though he gained better overall results near the end of last year, Teheran still has some room for improvement, especially against left-handed hitters. Lefties produced a .893 OPS against him through his first 21 starts and a .894 OPS during his final 12 starts, though the small sample size of the latter mark was skewed by the effect of Yankees lefties going 9-for-20 with three homers against Teheran during that ugly late August start.

"I'm just trying to be more consistent," Teheran said. "I got more consistent late last year, and that's the way that I want to start this year. So, I am just focused on what I was doing at the end of last season."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.

 

Atlanta Braves, Julio Teheran