ATLANTA -- At the beginning of the season, Julio Teheran focused on honing his slider into a Major League-quality pitch, a process which culminated in his dominant June 5 start against the Pirates, when he leaned heavily on the pitch in striking out 11 batters and allowing just one hit over eight innings.
After taking a backseat early in 2013, Teheran's curveball has been the most effective complement to his mid-90s fastball of late, thanks in part to the evolution of that slider earlier in the season.
"At the beginning, [my curveball] was good, but I didn't use it as much because I was using more of my slider," Teheran said. "Now I feel like I can throw any count, because my slider made my curveball better."
In Teheran's two starts since the All-Star break, he's thrown a total of 33 curveballs, more than he has in any other two-game stretch this season. The Braves have been pleased with the results: Teheran has allowed one run and struck out 12 batters in 13 innings of post-break work, and the 22-year-old right-hander has built confidence in throwing his breaking pitches in any count.
"When you're a young pitcher, you get down 2-0 or 3-1, here comes a fastball, and then you have to go back up a base, because in the Major Leagues, these guys hit 94-mph fastballs," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Now he mixes it up, he knows what he's doing. I think [pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] has done a terrific job developing him and bringing him along in those situations."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.