Lefty hitters giving Teheran grief this season
Braves righty struggles during loss to Red Sox at Fenway
BOSTON -- Last season, Julio Teheran established himself as a dominant starter on the Braves' pitching staff while earning his first All-Star Game selection. And when the right-hander pitched on Opening Day this year, many expected the excellence would continue.
However, that hasn't happened. And in the wake of a 9-4 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had a long conversation with pitching coach Roger McDowell about the struggling Teheran, who allowed six runs on a career-high 13 hits over 6 1/3 innings at Fenway Park. The focus of their chat was clearly defined.
"We need to do something against the left-handed hitters," Gonzalez said. "They're just wearing him out. I don't know if he's just leaving balls all over the plate, the execution. Roger and I have been here talking about that for a while. We got carried away. We need to do something to equalize [the splits] a little bit."
Boston's left-handers went 6-for-15 with a walk in Teheran's defeat. Utility man Brock Holt, who hit for the cycle, accounted for three of those hits (a double, a single and a solo home run). Alejandro De Aza also tagged him for a two-run double in the sixth.
Through 14 starts this season, lefties have hit the 24-year-old at a .326 clip while slugging .546 against him. In 2014, Teheran limited them to a .239 average and a .395 slugging percentage.
"They still got to him last year a little bit, but it wasn't at the pace they're doing right now," Gonzalez said. "Whether it's pitch selection or command. Looking at the video through the course on the Jumbotron, it's balls right down the middle. It's balls down the middle of the plate that we need to locate."
As he has done several times before, Teheran let a couple of bad innings spoil an otherwise solid outing. In the first, he allowed two runs before inducing a bases-loaded double play and fanning Mike Napoli to avoid any heavy damage. Teheran went on to work four scoreless innings before fading late, giving up four runs on seven hits over his final 1 1/3 frames.
The performance raised Teheran's ERA to 7.17 in eight road starts.
"Just one bad inning [in the first]," Teheran said. "Didn't make a couple of pitches, then they got me. Other than that, I set it down for a couple of innings. And then in the sixth, I got in a bit of trouble again. I think that I made a couple pitches right there, a couple of mistakes. The guys were hitting it pretty good."
But many of Teheran's teammates have already seen firsthand what the young pitcher can accomplish when his location is on point.
"Just a bump. It's nothing huge," third baseman Chris Johnson said. "He'll be all right. He's a talented guy, he works hard, too. I don't think anybody is worried about this being who he is. We know it's not."
The righty is healthy, Gonzalez said, and he's pitching at velocities consistent with his career averages. Sometimes, the tough luck of a season simply comes down to execution on the mound.
"We just got to figure out getting back the old Julio Teheran," Gonzalez said.