Game 112, Braves at Mariners
Chris Young vs. Julio Teheran, 12:40pm
I’d like to propose that this is *Still* a happy Felix day, as I’ve got a bit of a Felix hangover right now. That was a brilliant game against a tricky line-up, and then Chris Taylor added to it with the best defensive play by a SS that the M’s have made all year. The M’s didn’t hit particularly well, but for a night, it didn’t matter. There was more angst than usual following Felix’s exit after 8 IP and 97 pitches, but I’m not going to complain about that. Seems like a more than defensible position for McClendon to take, especially as the M’s look for Felix to pitch them into the postseason in September.
Today’s game features the Braves young ace, Julio Teheran. The righty throws a four-seam, a sinker, a slider, a curve and a change-up, with the slider doing the bulk of the work as far as non-fastballs go. The change-up’s an effective pitch not because it’s a huge swing-and-miss pitch, but because it generates some ground balls, which helps Teheran keep left-handed hitters in the ballpark. As a fly-baller overall, and someone who pounds the zone effectively (witness the 5-and-change walk rate in both 2013 and 2014), that’s important. That said, he’s comfortable throwing his slider to lefties as well, and as of yet, lefties haven’t made him pay for it. It’s a really good pitch, so that’s not a shock, but lefties have hit about .170 on the pitch in his career. It’s not clear if it’s good luck or a change in approach, but while lefties knocked six HRs on it (giving them a slugging percentage over .500 with their .170 BA in 2013), they’ve only hit one this year.
Because of that HR/FB issue – one that was confined pretty much to lefties last year – his career splits are a bit wider than they’ve been this year, and, frankly, his ERA’s a lot better than his FIP. Chris Young knows all about this, of course, but you can make a case that Teheran’s underrated by fielding-independent metrics. Of course, you could simply argue that he’s been HR-lucky and sequencing-lucky this year, and that his ERA will rise. In any event, this is a very, very good starter – one without true ace potential, but who’s knocking on the door of that tier at just 23 years of age.
You probably knew I couldn’t get through this without mentioning it, but Teheran is a common alternate spelling of Tehran, the 27th largest city in the world by population. As Miguel Cairo retired after 2012, I think that makes Teheran the active pitcher who shares a name with the largest world city. Cairo’s the all-time leader, with the 18th largest city, while the late Jose Lima follows with the 21st-largest city. After that, there’s a fairly large break down to #48 – Sydney. If you’re lax with your spelling criteria, you could say Sidney Ponson qualifies, but you’re probably better off with Sydney “Syd” Smith, a back-up C/1B on the 1911 Cleveland team that featured Shoeless Joe Jackson. Current minor leaguers who can join the elite group include pitcher Gabriel Lima, a pitcher in the VSL for the Cubs, and D-Backs org-guy Taylor Harbin, who shares his name with the 59th-most populous city.*
1: Jackson, CF
2: Ackley, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Morales, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Taylor, SS
7: Morrison, 1B
8: Chavez, RF
9: Sucre, C
SP: Chris Young
I’d say something about Taylor’s hot start moving him up the line-up, but it seems it has at least as much to do with getting Endy Chavez and Jesus Sucre in the line-up as anything Taylor himself has done. The M’s just can’t quit Endy Chavez.
* I’m surprised there aren’t more Londons out there, given the NFL had a London Fletcher for so many years. There’ve been a few minor leaguers with that surname, though none appeared in a big league game. There’s one active player in the Dodgers Dominican League team named Miguel Londono – again, not sure how you handle that. I think it doesn’t count, but perhaps you’re more accomodating/inclusive than I am.