One-hit gem cements Teheran as elite pitcher

Right-hander faces one over minimum in shutout of Mets

One-hit gem cements Teheran as elite pitcher

NEW YORK -- As Julio Teheran struggled throughout last season, there was reason to wonder if he would ever regain the promise he had shown in 2013 and '14, when he established himself as one of baseball's best pitchers.

Teheran has steadily erased those doubts as he has spent the past two months consistently producing strong starts. But if there were any lingering concerns about his ability to sustain this successful stretch, they certainly evaporated with the ace right-hander's first career one-hit shutout in Sunday afternoon's sweep-clinching 6-0 win over the Mets at Citi Field.

"I think I'm pitching better this year than I did in past years," Teheran said after helping the Braves record a season-best fifth consecutive win. "I'm just trying to pitch my game."

Though Teheran had produced two previous shutouts (both during the 2014 season), he had never previously been as efficiently dominant as he was on Sunday, when he retired 27 of 28 batters and ended his 120-pitch gem retiring 21 straight. The only blemish came courtesy of the line-drive single Michael Conforto hit to center field to begin the bottom of the third.

Teheran's game score was 92, trumping his previous career-best of 89, which he set on June 5, 2013, when he carried a no-hit bid into the eighth inning and ended up limiting the Pirates to one hit over eight scoreless innings with eleven strikeouts.

Teheran on his one-hit shutout

"He just kept getting early-count outs," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He had a couple innings where he really had to work. But, I'll be honest, I kinda feel that way every time he goes out that something really good could happen."

Teheran has posted a 1.89 ERA and limited opponents to a .168 batting average over his past 12 starts. This two-month stretch of dominance trumps most of the hot streaks the 25-year-old produced while compiling a 3.03 ERA over 63 starts through his first two full seasons -- 2013 and '14.

Some doubts about Teheran's potential developed after he produced a 4.04 ERA last season, but since enduring a couple rough outings in early April, the rejuvenated hurler has proven much more successful against left-handed hitters and generated a little more life on his fastball. But more importantly, he seems to have a better understanding of how to utilize his curveball, slider and changeup as weapons.

"He's definitely been improving, even the last couple [outings] when he's given up some homers and stuff," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said. "Those are more just occasional mistakes. I don't know if we really made any mistakes today. Whenever we missed, we missed in good spots."

Teheran had surrendered 11 hits in 20 2/3 innings in June entering Sunday's start. Six of those hits were home runs, which accounted for each of the eight runs he surrendered during that stretch.

As Flowers suggested, Teheran improved on his recent success with this latest gem by avoiding those occasional mistakes which had proven costly.

"[Teheran] changed speeds really well today," Snitker said. "His location was good. He's maturing as a pitcher. It's kind of like the more you do it, the better you get at it. He's a very competitive player too."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.