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Improved slider proves to be key for Teheran

Braves starter returned to using off-speed pitch in Monday's outing
MLB.com @mlbbowman

DENVER -- Unpredictable seems to be an appropriate term to describe Julio Teheran's inconsistent season. So, maybe it shouldn't be surprising to learn after shying away from his slider in his first two starts this month, the Braves right-hander relied heavily on this weapon as he produced one of his best starts of the season in Monday night's 3-0 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.

Because the slider had become problematic, Teheran threw it just three times on Aug. 8 against the Phillies and seven times on Aug. 2 against the Dodgers. These totals were his fewest and fourth fewest, respectively, that he has tallied in any start since Statcast™ began tracking data at the beginning of the 2015 season.

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DENVER -- Unpredictable seems to be an appropriate term to describe Julio Teheran's inconsistent season. So, maybe it shouldn't be surprising to learn after shying away from his slider in his first two starts this month, the Braves right-hander relied heavily on this weapon as he produced one of his best starts of the season in Monday night's 3-0 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.

Because the slider had become problematic, Teheran threw it just three times on Aug. 8 against the Phillies and seven times on Aug. 2 against the Dodgers. These totals were his fewest and fourth fewest, respectively, that he has tallied in any start since Statcast™ began tracking data at the beginning of the 2015 season.

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But as Teheran worked with pitching coach Chuck Hernandez over the past week, the righty regained a feel for this breaking pitch that arguably stands as the best within his repertoire. As Teheran held one of the National League's best lineups in check within an offensive-friendly environment on Monday, the Braves' veteran threw 37 sliders -- his second-highest total in any start since the beginning of 2015.

"That's the best I've been feeling for a while," Teheran said. "I was commanding and controlling the game with all of my pitches. Everything was working."

Video: ATL@COL: Teheran whiffs Amarista to escape jam in 7th

This has been a recipe of success for Teheran, who has a 2.43 ERA in his 14 starts since the start of 2015 in which he has thrown at least 30 sliders.

When Teheran posted a 3.21 ERA over 30 starts in 2016, opponents hit .187 (38-for-203) against his slider. Entering Monday's start, Teheran owned a 5.25 ERA and opponents had hit .261 (30-for-115) against his slider.

But everything was different during Monday's stellar outing. Teheran ended three of his eight strikeouts with the slider, and registered six called strikes with the pitch -- his second-highest total of the season. He recorded a season-high 10 called strikes with the slider when he did not allow an earned run over seven innings in Pittsburgh on April 9.

Video: ATL@COL: Teheran on impressive start in 3-0 loss

Of the three sliders the Rockies put in play against Teheran, the only one to land for a hit was a bloop single by Trevor Story that had a 71-mph exit velocity.

"I think my concentration was big, and I was able to get ahead of hitters," Teheran said. "In every other game, when I got in trouble, I wasn't able to make my pitches."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001

Atlanta Braves, Julio Teheran