PITTSBURGH -- Before determining whether Julio Teheran still fits in their long-term plans, the Braves will be challenged to figure out if he's the guy who surrendered five first-inning runs during Saturday's 8-4 loss to the Pirates, or the one who allowed just one more run over the remainder of his six-inning effort.
"There's something there that we've got to fix," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We've got to take care of it collectively. Julio has a big voice in this. When we get home and he throws his side [session] on Tuesday, we've got to sit down and figure out what needs to be addressed."
When Teheran earned his first All-Star selection last year and drew his second straight Opening Day assignment this season, there certainly wasn't reason to anticipate the Braves would spend most of these past two months wondering what the future holds for the 24-year-old right-hander.
As Teheran surrendered six earned runs and nine hits over six innings on Saturday, he produced a microcosm of his season. After allowing seven of the first eight hitters he faced to reach safely, he retired 17 of the final 22 he faced. The lone run he surrendered after the first inning came courtesy of double steal that would have resulted in an out had first baseman Joey Terdoslavich not made an errant throw to the plate.
Maybe it shouldn't have been too surprising to see the vastly different results Teheran produced on Saturday. This is the same guy who limited the Brewers to two hits over seven innings on May 21 and then allowed 10 hits in just 4 1/3 innings against the Dodgers only five days later. He has now allowed six earned runs in two of his past three outings. In between, he limited the Mets to one hit over seven scoreless innings.
And if that's not enough info to prove how frustratingly odd this season has been for Teheran, it should be pointed out that he has a 7.40 ERA on the road and a 2.35 ERA at home. His overall 4.94 ERA ranks in the bottom five among all qualified National League starters.
"I'm just trying to keep my mind strong," Teheran said. "I'm just trying to control what I can control. Every time I go out there, I'm trying to give my best. If I don't have my best, I'm just trying to battle."
Stocked with an abundance of other talented young pitchers, the Braves could opt to trade Teheran to fill their need to for a power bat. If they were to do so right now, they'd be selling low on a pitcher who had an abundance of value after he produced a 2.89 ERA last year. But recent results provide reason to wonder if he will ever regain his original value.
If Teheran turns things around during this season's final three months, his potential trade value will increase and there will be greater reason for the Braves to keep him.
Given how these past few months have unfolded, this is a potential dilemma the Braves would welcome with open arms.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.