There is so much to say about the rotation. The rotation is the linchpin of everything the Braves have been doing since November 2014. The rotations of the past few seasons have seen the disappointment of Top 100 prospects like Matt Wisler and Aaron Blair, the collapse of Bartolo Colon, the slowed development of Mike Foltynewicz, the inconsistency of Julio Teheran, and the encouraging success of Sean Newcomb, Max Fried, and Luiz Gohara. The rotation is the most variable thing for the 2018 team. The floor is frighteningly low, but the ceiling is higher than any rotation the Braves have had this decade. And while the Opening Day rotation is more impressive than in years past, the unit has the potential to get even better as the year goes along. This segment is on the 3 locks to make the rotation as of now: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, and Brandon McCarthy.
We’ve been talking about Teheran for a long time. He was a #1 prospect, an untouchable in the Justin Upton trade where we traded Randall Delgado instead, and a fixture during a rebuild that saw most anyone valuable traded. He was so valuable that Coppy hinted that he had the same untouchable status as Freddie Freeman. So why are fans so low on someone for whom his previous GM was so high? I don’t know. He has been inconsistent from year to year. In 2014 and 2016, he produced exactly 3.2 fWAR. But in 2015 and 2017, he struggled to identical 1.1 fWAR seasons. At least he’s inconsistently consistent.
There’s been concerns with his velocity, concerns with tipping his pitches, and while those are excellent observations about his struggles, it’s been well-documented that his most recent poor season could be chalked up to the yips caused by the new stadium. At home, he was simply a different pitcher. On the road, he was Julio; he had a 3.14 ERA with solid peripherals. At home, he was just bad. More walks, more hits, more home runs, more hit batsmen, and almost double the runs. It wasn’t necessarily that he just gave up more gopher balls as the narrative has been; he was just completely ineffective. He’s never had those exaggerated of home/road splits, so whatever about Sun Trust Park was not working for him, you’d have to think he’s due for a bounce-back season. He ended the season with a 2.79 ERA in 9 starts, 5 of which were at home, so there are certainly signs of life in this 27 year old.
He’s still signed to a team-friendly contract. He’ll get paid $8M this year, $11M next year, and $12M in 2020. For all of the talk about trading Teheran, this offseason would have been the worst time in his career, and I fear fans may have given up on him. He’s only 10 months older than Mike Foltynewicz, and while it seems like he’s been around forever and hasn’t lived up to the hype, he’s now entering the prime of his career with a contract definitely worth gambling on. He’ll undoubtedly be the Opening Day starter again, and so guys Julio, so may go the rotation.