DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Randall Delgado has remained the favorite to begin the season in the final spot of Atlanta's starting rotation. But while allowing eight runs -- five earned -- and 10 hits in just four innings against the Blue Jays on Saturday, Delgado provided reason to wonder exactly how long he will be considered a better option than Julio Teheran.
"He's still got to get through those difficult innings and minimize the damage a little bit," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "But at the end of the day, yeah, I do think he pitched a little better than the line score showed."
Delgado might have escaped the third inning unscathed had Adam Lind not fouled off six pitches before hitting a two-out, three-run homer. The ugly five-run, third inning that he endured might have looked much different had second baseman Josh Wilson not booted a potential double-play grounder two batters before Kelly Johnson drilled a three-run double.
While Delgado's curveball has drawn rave reviews from Gonzalez, he does seem to still be fighting to gain confidence in what is his third-best pitch. The 22-year-old right-hander's costly mistake against Lind in the third inning was a hanging curveball.
"He gave up some hits, but he threw the ball well," Braves catcher David Ross said. "I know it was a five-run inning. But if he pitches like that on most days, he'll be fine."
While Delgado was facing the Blue Jays potent lineup on Saturday, Teheran completed a side session at the club's Spring Training complex.
Gonzalez said he plans to announce his Opening Day starter and rotation plans "within the next three or four days." But he said he might wait a few extra days to reveal whether Delgado or Teheran will serve as his fifth starter until Tim Hudson returns to the rotation at the end of April.
Because the Braves will not have to use their fifth starter until April 11, Delgado and Teheran could both make at least two more starts during the exhibition season.