Inconsistent Teheran struggles in loss to Marlins

July 24th, 2018

MIAMI -- Though the Braves need to improve their bullpen, their primary focus leading up to next week's non-waiver Trade Deadline might be to find a starting pitcher who can solidify a rotation that has been weakened by injuries and 's prolonged inconsistencies.
Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos likely gained a greater desire to acquire a starter while watching Teheran once again prove maddening during Tuesday afternoon's 9-3 loss to the Marlins at Marlins Park.

"It's not frustrating," Teheran said. "I need to find a way. You have one start that is good or two in a row. But [being] consistent has been the problem. I'm not going to get that in my mind and get crazy or get frustrated. It's a game. We'll try to do our best to be the best."
When Teheran recorded 10 strikeouts and allowed five runs over five innings against the Yankees on July 4, he produced a start that was a microcosm of these past two seasons, when a hint of promise has routinely been erased by an ugly start or two.
So there was simply reason to be cautiously optimistic when Teheran allowed just one run over the 13 innings totaled within his final two starts before the All-Star break. But the hope that he had turned the corner and possibly regained the magic found during his 2016 bounce-back season quickly evaporated as the Marlins tagged him for nine runs (seven earned) in just 4 1/3 innings on Tuesday.

"He just wasn't real sharp and could never get anything going," Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Teheran's days as Atlanta's annual Opening Day starter by default ended this year as Mike Foltynewicz and have proven capable of being the front-line starters the Braves have lacked over the past few years. But even though he now sits in a more appropriate back-end role, there's still a need for him to provide the Braves with confidence he can provide consistent value to a rotation that may be without both top prospect (right shoulder inflammation) and (right knee tendinitis) for the remainder of this season.
"He looks healthy," Snitker said. "His velocity is fine. His stuff in spurts is really good."
So as the Braves attempt to extend their fight with the Phillies for the lead in the National League East race, they know they must address needs within what has become a thin bullpen. But the potential value of adding a reliever will not be maximized if Atlanta can't rely on anyone beyond Foltynewicz, Newcomb and in its rotation.
As the Rays and Tigers have had scouts following the Braves' top Minor League prospects over the past couple of weeks, there's certainly reason to wonder if Atlanta could use its talent-rich pipeline to land Tampa Bay's Chris Archer, who could be controlled through the 2021 season.
Detroit's stood as a potential match before he strained his oblique muscle last week and became a more likely offseason trade target. But the Tigers could interest the Braves with veteran starter Mike Fiers and reliever .

Whatever happens over the next week, the Braves certainly have reason to be concerned about Teheran, who allowed the Marlins to gain an early lead with J.T. Realmuto's two-run homer in the first inning. 's whiff on 's single led to a pair of unearned runs in the third and 's three-run homer highlighted Miami's five-run fifth.
"[Teheran's command] was a little on and off, but there were also some good pitches that they barreled," catcher Tyler Flowers said. "When you make mistakes and they get hit, it's easy to identify. But I felt like there were a few times where there were some good pitches in good spots that got hit hard. I don't know. Hopefully, we'll figure it out."
Domino effect in fifth: Teheran encountered trouble in the fifth inning when he allowed Marlins starter to produce a 99.5 mph exit velocity -- the fifth-highest recording on a hit by pitcher against the Braves this season -- with his leadoff double. Anderson was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners for Realmuto, whose slow chopper led shortstop Dansby Swanson to field it at the edge of the grass and make a throw home that pulled Flowers slightly up the first-base line. Chen scored on the play, and two batters later, Castro drilled a high fastball over the left-field wall.
"Dansby was just trying to make a play," Snitker said. "That's no double-play ball. If the ball is 10 inches over and not up the line, the guy is out. You're going to have days like that."

Less than 24 hours after being tabbed the team MVP by Freddie Freeman, Charlie Culberson pulled the Braves within one run with his two-out, two-run double in the fifth. Culberson is hitting .380 (19-for-50) with runners in scoring position and .500 (10-for-20) with two outs and runners in scoring position this season.
When (tight right hamstring) makes his expected return to the lineup on Thursday, Culberson may return to the bench. But his offensive production has at least given the Braves reason to think about playing him in left field when facing a left-handed starter. would play center field in place of Inciarte, who has hit just .218 against southpaws this season.

"They're a club we've had trouble closing out in different games over the last few years. They're a club that doesn't quit. That's what happens when you have a team at the top of the division. They're not going to stop trying to score. We were able to squash some rallies at big times." -- Marlins manager Don Mattingly
After resting on Wednesday, the Braves will return home to host the Dodgers on Thursday at 7:35 p.m. ET. Sanchez will look to cap an impressive July that has led Snitker to describe him as Atlanta's most consistent starting pitcher. Sanchez has posted a 2.92 ERA in his past four starts, three of which have come against playoff contenders.