Once upon a time… there was a pitcher. He was a very young pitcher. So young that he could barely buy beer. All the people said he was going to be a great pitcher someday. So he went out and he tried to be a great pitcher.
He wasn’t. This is what the batters did to him: 2-4 record. 5.54 ERA. 1.76 WHIP. ERA+ of 79.
He was not discouraged. He came back the next year and tried to be a great pitcher. But he wasn’t. The batters were still mean to him. He went 7-17 with an ERA of 4.56, a 1.35 WHIP, and an ERA+ of 80.
But the next year he went out and he tried to be a great pitcher, and all of a sudden he was! He went 14-8 with an ERA of 3.68! And from then on the little pitcher, whose name was Little Tommy Glavine, was a great pitcher!
I coulda done the same thing with John Smoltz. At age 21 he started 12 games for the Braves and got shellacked. 2-7, ERA 5.48. The next year he won 12, then 14, 14, 15, 15, etc. etc. Greg Maddux at age 21 went 6-14 with an ERA of 5.61.
The point is: Give the guy a break. He’s 21 years old.
Teheran was considered not only the Braves’ top prospect, but the fifth best prospect (out of all prospects period, not just pitching prospects) in all of baseball in 2011. I don’t think the scouts were wrong – I think he’s 21. After a meteoric rise through the farm system (yeah, Tim McCarver, meteors don’t rise, they fall, blah blah blah, go listen to your George Carlin records again), he’s just hitting a natural bump in the road, I feel.
In 2010 at the age of 19, he pitched at Rome, Myrtle Beach and Mississippi, with a composite 2.59 ERA and 1.09 WHIP while striking out more than a man per inning. In 2011 he went 15-3, 2.55 at AAA. In spring training the fifth spot was considered his to lose, and lose it he did, yielding the honor to his fellow babyface, Randall Delgado. Of course, Delgado also struggled in his rookie campaign, eventually getting sent back down in midseason.
The jump to the bigs is usually tougher mentally for young pitchers than young hitters, which is why few teams try to rush pitchers. My crystal ball says J-Teh is gonna do just fine when he gets a second chance at the promotion. The Braves’ pitching scouts have proven, at least to me, that they know what they’re doing. If they say he’s a stud, I tend to believe them. And his minor league stats back them up.
Right now Teheran still looms large in the Braves’ plans. He was supposedly the piece that the Cubs wanted for Ryan Dempster, but they settled for Delgado. Luckily, Dempster pitched a hissy fit and went to Texas, and we got Paul Maholm and kept them both.
I am sure that Julio’s name will come up in trade talks a lot as the Braves try to fill center and left field; dealing from their perennial strength, young pitching, is likely. I can’t envision both Delgado and Teheran being here after the July trade deadline, and would be mildly surprised if the Braves entered spring training with both in camp. The Braves have decent payroll room and could go the free agency route to fill their needs rather than a trade. But they are the two bluest chips in the Braves’s trading locker. I hope they use them wisely.