LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Julio Teheran's bid to win the fifth spot in Atlanta's rotation was strengthened as he allowed Detroit one run in four innings of Thursday night's 9-2 loss to the Tigers at Champion Stadium. Using his much-improved two-seam fastball and a slider that looks like a hard curveball, the 22-year-old right-hander recorded five strikeouts and surrendered three hits.
"My two-seamer is working better now," Teheran said. "All my pitches were working good. But I've got more confidence in my two-seamer now."
While compiling a 5.08 ERA in 26 starts with Triple-A Gwinnett last year, Teheran's fastball selection primarily consisted of the four-seam variety. Teheran complied with the Braves' request for him to begin working on the sinking two-seamer -- a pitch with which he gained comfort during his successful stint in the Dominican Winter League.
"He added another little twist running [the two-seamer] in on the left-handed hitters and then brought it back over the plate," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I hadn't seen that from him before. But you see signs of the kid getting advanced."
Teheran retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced on Thursday. He surrendered a leadoff single to begin the fourth inning and then committed a balk that put Brennan Boesch in position to score on Prince Fielder's opposite-field single that beat Atlanta's defensive shift.
Through his first nine innings of the Grapefruit League season, Teheran has surrendered four hits, allowed two runs and recorded 12 strikeouts.
"His [two-seamer] is really moving down and he's got the power four-seam fastball that he can punch out a guy with up in the strike zone," Gonzalez said. "If those two pitches come along with the breaking balls, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with. He's gotten better and better each time out."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.