So, because the offense is playing like dog poop right now, I thought I’d run some numbers on Julio Teheran, who seems to be almost equally underappreciated by Braves fans and non-Braves fans.
Since his rookie season in 2013, he has made 211 starts, fourth-most in baseball behind only Max Scherzer, Jose Quintana, and Jon Lester. He’s one of only 10 pitchers who have made 200 starts over that period — that is to say, averaging 30 starts per 162 over the last six and a half years.
Among pitchers with at least 1000 innings pitched since 2013, Julio’s ERA is 3.59, 16th-best in baseball. He’s behind Kershaw, deGrom, Scherzer, Greinke, Sale, Bumgarner, Kluber, Arrieta, Strasburg, Lester, Verlander, Cole, Price, Hamels, and, by just 0.05 runs, his teammate Dallas Keuchel. In 17th place, just 0.01 runs behind Julio, is Lance Lynn. (Teheran is a few ticks lower than 16th in ERA- and ERA+, but he’s basically always right around Jose Quintana, Lynn, and Keuchel.)
Now, he doesn’t look like one of the better pitchers in baseball. He looks like Old Livan Hernandez, throwing slop for the Giants. That’s what accounts for the fact that, from 2013-2019, Julio has the single largest gap between his ERA and his FIP — his ERA minus FIP is -0.59, meaning that his FIP thinks he’s more than half a run worse than he’s been!
(In second place is his former teammate R.A. Dickey, and everyone knows flutterballs break the metrics. But Zack Greinke is fourth, and Kershaw is seventh. A lot of extraordinary pitchers prevent runs better than their components would suggest.)
Why is Teheran’s ERA so much better than his FIP? Well, he also has the second-lowest BABIP in baseball over that period, .268, tied with Jake Arrieta. In first place, just a single point lower, with a .267 BABIP, is Kershaw.
Julio Teheran isn’t Clayton Kershaw — hey, no one is. He’s much more similar to guys like Quintana and Keuchel. But Quintana’s a guy the Cubs were so desperate to add that they traded away Eloy Jimenez, and Keuchel is a Cy Young Award winner and two-time All-Star. (Of course, Julio’s a two-time All-Star, too.)
He doesn’t pitch deep in games, and his four-seamer looks weaker than a 90-year-old bookkeeper in a swimsuit. And he’s still one of the better pitchers in baseball and always has been. As Branch Rickey once said about Eddie Stanky:
“He can’t run, he can’t hit and he can’t throw. But if there’s a way to beat the other team, he’ll find it.”