Delgado growing comfortable with curveball

Delgado growing comfortable with curveball

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Randall Delgado appeared to take another step closer toward winning his battle with Julio Teheran to begin this season as the Braves' fifth starter.

Before Teheran surrendered yet another home run and struggled through a two-run sixth inning in Monday's 4-3 loss to the Cardinals, Delgado limited the defending World Series champions to two runs over five innings. His lone mistake was a hanging changeup that Matt Carpenter belted for a two-run homer in the fourth inning.

"There was just one changeup that came back over the plate to Carpenter, the left-handed hitter," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Other than that, I thought he threw the ball really well. He threw some changeups that were down in the strike zone with some bite.

"His fastball is good and his curveball is one of the best curveballs I've seen. His changeup is really, really good."

This marks the second straight start in which Delgado's curveball has gained praised. He primarily threw his fastball and changeup during his seven Major League starts last year. According to Fangraphs.com, Delgado threw his curveball with just 11.3 percent of his pitches last season. But he seems much more confident with the pitch he threw more frequently during his Minor League outings.

"They get comfortable and start becoming the pitcher we saw in the Minor Leagues," general manager Frank Wren said when asked about the frequency with which Delgado is throwing his curveball. "That's really the development process. They sometimes get in the safety-first mode when they get to the big leagues rather than just being themselves."

Carlos Beltran's second inning home run was the ninth that Teheran has surrendered in 13 innings. The heralded pitching prospect believes his struggles are a product of inconsistent fastball command. Six of the home runs were hit during his two-inning stint against the Tigers on March 4.

Teheran admits that he is not as comfortable when coming out of the bullpen like he did on Monday and during that game against the Tigers. It will be his turn to start in the Major League game when they are both scheduled to pitch again on Saturday.

With both scheduled to pitch five innings, the Braves will have Teheran start against the Blue Jays on Saturday. Delgado will pitch in a Minor League game that day.