Teheran could benefit from his bid to go the distance
Julio Teheran had not allowed a hit since the fourth inning and he escaped Monday night’s eighth inning having retired each of the previous seven Twins batters he had faced. Giving him a chance to notch his first shutout and complete game seemed to be more appealing than dipping into an injury-depleted, short-handed bullpen.
Still it was somewhat surprising to see Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez send Teheran back out for the ninth inning having already thrown 109 pitches — one shy of the highest total he compiled during his Minor League career. Sure, he was pitching with an extra day of rest and will have another extra day of rest before he starts against the Mets on Sunday night in New York.
But going the distance has become somewhat foreign for the Braves, who have notched the third-fewest complete games (16) in the Majors since the start of the 2008 season.
With that being said, this trend started to change last year when the Braves recorded five complete games, their highest total since 2006. Braves general manager Frank Wren has urged Minor League managers to push starting pitchers a little bit harder over the past few years and Gonzalez has started to get the kind of pitchers who are capable of going the distance.
Gonzalez’s hope to give Luis Avilan and Cory Gearrin a chance to rest on Monday evaporated when Teheran surrendered a one-out home run to Josh Willingham and then exited when Trevor Plouffe exited with one out in the ninth inning. But the Braves could reap future benefits from the decision to send Teheran back out for the ninth inning.
This certainly showed Teheran the club was confident in his ability to finish what he started. At the same time, it gave him a chance to experience the extra adrenaline that comes with this situation without having to first experience this in a one or two-run game.
Teheran ended up throwing 123 pitches before exiting to a standing ovation. That pitch count ranks as the highest total posted by a Braves pitcher since Kenshin Kawakami threw 125 pitches over seven innings in a 10-inning win over the Dodgers on Aug. 8, 2009.
Gonzalez said sent Teheran out for the ninth inning with the plan to not allow him to throw more than 125 pitches.
Here are the top 10 pitch counts for Braves pitchers since the start of the start of the 2007 season:
125 — Kawakami (7 innings) at Dodgers Aug. 8, 2009
123 — Teheran (8.1 innings) vs. Twins May 20, 2013
122 — John Smoltz (8 innings) vs. Nationals April 12, 2007
122 — Tim Hudson (6.2 innings) vs. Phillies May 25, 2007
122 — Hudson (8 innings) at Brewers May 27, 2008
122 — Brandon Beachy (9 innings) vs. Marlins May 17, 2012
121 — Javier Vazquez (7.2 innings) vs. Red Sox June 27, 2009
121 — Tommy Hanson (5.1 innings) at D-backs June 10, 2010
120 — Hudson ( 7.2 innings) vs. Brewers Sept. 21, 2007
120 — Jair Jurrjens (6.2 innings) at Pirates April 17, 2009
120 — Vazquez (5.1 innings) at Marlins Sept. 2, 2009