LOS ANGELES -- If all goes well for Julio Teheran, his bruised right thumb might prove to be just what he needed to regain arm strength and ease concerns about his velocity drop."That's one of the things I was thinking when I knew I'd be skipping a start, that the
LOS ANGELES -- If all goes well for Julio Teheran, his bruised right thumb might prove to be just what he needed to regain arm strength and ease concerns about his velocity drop.
"That's one of the things I was thinking when I knew I'd be skipping a start, that the time would help my arm to recover from the soreness," Teheran said. "I hope to get all the soreness out and get my velo back."
Teheran is currently on the disabled list because of the thumb ailment he suffered when he got jammed by a pitch during his final plate appearance of Monday's forgettable four-inning start against the Padres. But the primary concern about the Braves' right-hander stems from the fact his average fastball velocity this year has been 89.2 mph -- 108th of 127 pitchers who have thrown at least 750 pitches.
"My arm has been sore," Teheran said. "As a pitcher, you have games where you don't feel 100 percent. This year, for me, I've been kind of up and down, fighting through soreness. One day, you feel good and the other, you don't. I don't think it's a big deal."
Teheran is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday, and he's hoping to start that night's home game against the Padres. His thumb soreness has decreased over the past few days and he'll have a better sense of where he stands on Tuesday, when he plans to throw an array of sliders and curveballs during a bullpen session at SunTrust Park.
While Teheran's thumb soreness might have created a brief, immediate concern, the big deal seems to be that at 27 years old, he is already showing a definitive decline in arm strength. He playfully blamed his wide-ranging, occasional arm soreness on "getting old." But this is not necessarily a laughing matter when you consider that he has posted a 4.44 ERA over the 45 starts he's made since seemingly righting himself during his 2016 All-Star season.
When Teheran stood as one of baseball's top prospects, his four-seam fastball sat around 95 mph. His average velo with this pitch was 92.8 mph during his 2013 rookie season and stood at 92.1 mph in 2015. But it steadily dropped over the past few years and now rests at 89.5 mph, which ranks 68th of 72 pitchers who have thrown at least 400 four-seamers this year.
Teheran has made 171 starts since the start of 2013. Ten of the 15 lowest average fastball velocities (two-seamers included) he has produced in a game have been registered within this season's first 13 starts.
But it should also be noted, opponents have hit just .220 against Teheran's fastball this year -- the lowest batting average he has allowed against these pitches since the start of his career. His success remains dictated on location and the effectiveness of his slider. But his margin of error has lessened as his velo has steadily decreased.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.