Teheran’s debut will be memorable
I’m sure many of you remember seeing this baby-faced version of Tom Glavine take his lumps for the Braves during the late 1980s. And I’m quite confident none of you watched his Major League debut and said, “that kid is going to win 300 games and be in Cooperstown one day.”
But as we all know, things got much better for Mr. Glavine after he allowed six earned runs and 10 hits in 3 2/2 innings while making his Major League debut at the Astrodome on Aug. 17, 1987. Those of you who weren’t following the Braves back then might recognize him better from the picture below, which was taken last summer when the Braves retired his No. 47.
As you watch Julio Teheran make his Major League debut against the Phillies tonight, many of you will wonder if you are watching the start of a truly special career. Regardless of what transpires, it will take many more years to learn whether this proves true.
But for an hour or two tonight, there’s no doubt you will be watching something that you will remember for many years to come. You might walk away with the excitement you felt when Kyle Davies tossed five scoreless innings while making his Major League debut against the Red Sox on a cold, rainy May night in Boston six years ago.
Or you might walk away feeling disappointed like Steve Avery was when he allowed eight earned runs and lasted just 2 1/3 innings while making his big league debut against the Reds in 1990.
Davies won another 13 games for the Braves and Avery was an 18-game winner for the memorable 1991 Braves team.
Still while the individual results of a highly-regarded prospect’s debut mean virtually nothing, fans should fully savor the excitement surrounding the debut of a player like Teheran, a 20-year-old who ranks as MLB.com’s second-best right-handed pitching prospect.
Most of you likely remember exactly where you were when Jason Heyward used the first swing of his career to produce a three-run homer off Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano. Likewise, many of you likely have a story to tell about the three-run, eighth-inning homer Jeff Francoeur hit in his debut against Cubs left-hander Glendon Rusch.
Of course there are also the debuts in which a player impresses while achieving sub-par results. After Tommy Hanson surrendered three two-run homers in his debut against the Brewers two years ago, I remember thinking about how much he had impressed during the early innings that afternoon.
Hanson then spent the next month showing why he was considered the game’s top right-handed pitching prospect. He allowed just three earned runs in the 30 innings that encompassed his next five starts. In other words, he and John Smoltz experienced different paths at the beginning of their careers.
Smoltz limited the Mets to one earned run and worked eight innings while making his debut at Shea Stadium on July 23, 1988. He went 0-4 with an 8.44 ERA in his next five starts.
Because Teheran will return to Triple-A Gwinnett after tonight’s start, it will be some time before we see the path he travels during the early portion of his career. But as long as he is on the mound tonight, Braves fans will at least enjoy the opportunity to be introduced to the young kid with the very bright future.
At 20 years, 100 days old, Teheran will be the youngest Major League player to make his debut as a starting pitcher since San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner debuted in September 2009 at 20 years, 38 days. He will also become the youngest Braves pitcher to make his big-league debut as a starting pitcher since Avery did so in June of 1990 (20 years, 60 days).
Instead of pitching either Hanson or Tim Hudson on short rest for Sunday night’s game, the Braves decided it was best to call Teheran up for this one start. But Braves general manager Frank Wren said he wasn’t completely comfortable with giving the young hurler his debut in front of a nationally-televised audience Sunday night.
Thus the Braves opted to push Jair Jurrjens back to Sunday and allow Teheran to make his debut tonight. Getting an extra day should be welcomed by Jurrjens, who has thrown at least 100 pitches in each of his first four starts of the season.
Teheran will be opposed by Kyle Kendrick, who will be making his first start while filling in for Roy Oswalt, who is on the disabled list with a sore back.
With or without Oswalt, the Phillies can feel good about a rotation that includes Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. But with a little more than 20 percent of the season complete, the Braves’ starters have produced a better ERA.
Braves’ starting pitchers led the National League and ranked second in the Majors with the 2.88 ERA they had posted entering Saturday. The Phillies’ starters rank second in the National League with a 3.14 ERA.
The offense has obviously improved. But pitching is the primary reason the Braves have won 11 of their past 14 games. The starting pitchers have gone 8-0 with 1.93 ERA in the past 15 games.