After rocky debut, Teheran has work to do

ATLANTA -- After cruising through Spring Training in impressive fashion, Julio Teheran entered this season with tremendous confidence. But as the 22-year-old pitcher struggled during Saturday night's 6-5 win against the Cubs at Turner Field, he provided the reminder that it is never wise to put stock in statistics compiled during the Grapefruit League season.

"He had a really good spring, but that's still his first outing under the lights," Braves catcher Gerald Laird said. "He wants to make a good impression. Sometimes, you can try to do too much. But for the most part, I thought he threw the ball fine. I thought he just made some mistakes. He left some pitches up and those are the balls they hit hard."

Teheran allowed five runs and recorded just two strikeouts in five innings. Two of the eight hits he allowed were home runs. Luis Valbuena hit a solo home run in the fourth inning and Anthony Rizzo drilled a hanging curveball over the right-center field wall for a two-run home run in the fifth inning.

As Teheran posted a 1.04 ERA in six spring starts, he showed he was a more complete pitcher than he was when he posted a 5.08 ERA in 26 starts with Triple-A Gwinnett last year. Instead of relying heavily on his four-seam fastball, he now has a two-seam fastball and a couple of improved breaking pitches -- a curveball and a slider.

But the inconsistency of Teheran's still-developing offspeed pitches seemed to plague him as the Cubs started to get better swings during their second and third plate appearances.

"It's just one of those things where you've got to get more comfortable throwing those offspeed pitches for strikes early in the count so that we don't fall behind so much," Laird said.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.