LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen sustained season-ending elbow injuries during Spring Training in 2014, Julio Teheran was given his first Opening Day start, despite having completed just one full Major League season.Four years later, Teheran is set to become the first Braves pitcher in
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen sustained season-ending elbow injuries during Spring Training in 2014, Julio Teheran was given his first Opening Day start, despite having completed just one full Major League season.
Four years later, Teheran is set to become the first Braves pitcher in Atlanta history to make five consecutive Opening Day starts.
The Braves named Teheran their Opening Day starter before the 27-year-old right-hander made one of his final tuneups by starting Monday afternoon's 6-0 win over the Blue Jays at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex.
"Like I've been saying the last four times, it's a great honor," Teheran said. "This time, to be making history in this organization, I think it's exciting and motivating."
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Teheran will make history when the Braves open the regular season with their March 29 game against the Phillies at SunTrust Park. This will mark just the second time he made an Opening Day start in Atlanta. He has allowed two runs or fewer with at least six innings in each of his four previous season openers. But the Braves have won just one of those games.
Teheran will join Phil Niekro (8), Greg Maddux (7) and Rick Mahler (5) as the only pitchers in Atlanta history (since 1966) to make at least five Opening Day starts. Maddux and Mahler are the only members of this group who also made as many as four consecutive Opening Day starts.
Warren Spahn holds the franchise record with 10 Opening Day starts and stands as the only Braves hurler to ever make six consecutive such starts.
"It's great," Teheran said. "I never thought I would be in this spot. Looking back at this organization and whose names are in the history, it's exciting. To be part of this history, is something I'm going to be happy about."
Shortly after the Opening Day announcement was made, Teheran extended his strong exhibition season by limiting the Blue Jays to four hits over 6 2/3 innings. He retired the first 14 batters he faced and surrendered just two hits through the first six innings. The only two runs he has allowed over 18 2/3 Grapefruit League innings were tallied during last week's start against the Phillies.
"The ball was just coming out of his hand really well," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Everything was just sharp and quick. That's probably the best he's thrown all spring."
Teheran earned his second All-Star selection in 2016, then endured one of the most frustrating seasons of his career. After posting a career-high 4.49 ERA last year, he spent this past winter refining his slider, his top weapon, and further developing the changeup he plans to use more frequently this year.
"Last year was the year I didn't want to have," Teheran said. "This year is different. I've been working hard to give my best. This Spring Training has been tremendous for me. That's how I want to start the season."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.