What Has Gone Wrong with Julio Teheran this Season?

At the beginning of the season, we pondered whether Julio Teheran was going to be able to retain his number one starter status (he is a 2-time all star, after all), or would he regress to a 2nd or 3rd starter? As it turns out, it may have fallen even farther. Of the 70 pitchers who have pitched at least 109 innings (the number of games the Braves have played), Julio is ranked 59th in ERA. He has pitched like a 5th starter. Why has this happened?

First, let’s look at some of his stats per 9 innings.

All of these are “bad” stats (lower is better), except for the light blue “strikeouts per 9 innings” number. All of them have moved in the wrong direction, all of them the worst of Julio’s career since he became a full-time starter in 2013. We mentioned in the post at the beginning of the season his fastball velocity. Here are the numbers, according to his fangraphs page.

That’s not good.  It’s only a little under 2 mph difference, but a sub 92 mph fastball is a problem for many pitchers.  It means the batters have slightly more time, and there is that much less difference between his fastball and change-up.  He’s also serving up home runs at a crazy-high rate (he’s tied for 64th among those 70 pitchers with 109 innings pitched).

Given his loss in velocity and strikeout rate, he will have to start pitching to location to get more awkward swings to produce outs.  Since his walks and home runs are way up, that doesn’t seem to have happened.  At this point, he’s a 4th-5th starter, and will have to improve mightily to get back to his salary expectations.  His current WAR on Baseball-Reference is 0.0 on their version of WAR, and -0.5 on the Fangraphs version.  We’ll have to see if he can turn things around this season, but it doesn’t look good so far.