CHICAGO -- Though it has never been wise to make firm declarations based on a small sample size, Julio Teheran's performance in his past two starts has certainly justified the enhanced confidence he has exhibited.
Feeding off the success he had while tossing seven strong innings against the Red Sox on Monday, Teheran encountered little trouble against a potent Cubs lineup in the Braves' 4-3, 10-inning win on Sunday at Wrigley Field. The right-hander retired 19 of the final 21 batters he faced over seven scoreless innings and showed a little bit of that attitude he possessed before enduring frequent frustration last year.
"Yes, whenever I've got that attitude that you're thinking about, it's something I get whenever I feel I can compete and I've got all of my stuff," Teheran said. "That attitude I get is to try to miss bats with my pitches and to intimidate. I don't want to say intimidate, but to be able to compete against the other hitters."
Whether he'd like to admit it or not, Teheran has clearly regained some of that moxie he possessed during his 2013 rookie season, when he fearlessly pitched inside and did things like walk directly at Bryce Harper after plunking the Nationals slugger on the right hip with a pitch.
Teheran surrendered just two hits and recorded a season-high nine strikeouts on Sunday, marking the second time in his career that he recorded at least nine strikeouts while allowing two hits or fewer over at least seven scoreless innings. The other occasion was on June 5, 2013 -- when he lost a no-hit bid against the Pirates with two outs in the eighth inning.
Since looking more adequate than dominant in this season's first four starts, Teheran has looked more like the pitcher who recorded a 3.03 ERA over the 63 starts from 2013-14. Teheran has recorded at least eight strikeouts and allowed one earned run or fewer while completing at least seven innings in both of his past two starts. He reached each of these thresholds in six of the 51 starts he made from the start of the 2013 season through July 21, 2014. But he entered Monday's start against the Red Sox having done so in just two of the 49 starts that followed.
"Whenever you feel good, you're able to compete, and that is what I was able to do," Teheran said. "Hopefully, I can duplicate what I've been doing and take it to the next outing."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.