Frederick Krauss, Ph.D.
Game 23: Julio Teheran
The Cubs are coming off a grind-out 6-1 win in the series opener against the Atlanta Braves on Friday afternoon. Jon Lester and Aaron Blair both gave their teams solid pitching performances. The game was tied at one heading into the eighth until the Cubs offense broke the game open against the Braves bullpen. After the rain out Saturday, Sunday’s game could involve a little more offense as John Lackey and his 3-1 record with a 4.97 ERA face Julio Teheran and his 0-3 record with a 4.60 ERA.
Teheran, a right hander, is a former All-Star who has struggled the past few years and this year has been no different. However, in his last game against the Boston Red Sox he took the loss despite only giving up one run. Teheran is a strikeout pitcher having a career average of 7.7 strike outs per nine innings. He has the same average this year; however, he has a high walk rate as well. This year he is walking 3.38 batters per nine innings, which is partly why his WHIP is so high at 1.36. Teheran throws five pitches—four-seam fastball, slider, two-seam fastball, change-up, and curveball. The velocity on his fastball has dropped throughout the years. This year his fastball averages about 90 mph. Teheran predominantly throws fastball and slider. He will mix in the change-up and curve to keep hitters honest.
Outlook: Teheran stays in and around the strike zone despite having a high walk rate. Hitters are still able to make contact. As a result, the batting average for balls in play is .276. Lefties hit him a little more frequently at a .261 average as opposed to righties at .239. The key to hitting Teheran is keying on the slider and laying off when he throws it. Since the fastball velocity is slow batters have time to catch up. The slider is his out pitch and is averaging 10 mph slower than the fastball, which causes hitter to get out in front of it if looking fastball. Cubs hitters need to be patient and not chase the slider, or any of his pitches, outside of the strike zone. Cubs hitters have been amazingly patient this season, so they just need maintain that same patience with Teheran. Moreover, Lackey needs to have a better outing than last game. The game will be up for grabs if he has a repeat performance. On the other hand, hopefully the extra day of rest will help Lackey limit the Braves from getting on base. If so, then the Cubs should touch Teheran for enough runs for another Cubs win.