Julio Teheran has made 115 career major league starts. His most recent just happened to be his best, and it was a joy to watch. In case you missed it, Teheran faced just 28 hitters, allowing a lone hit (Michael Conforto's single to lead off the third), and striking out seven en route to complete game shutout on 120 pitches. You deserve a break: watch this.
It was Teheran's 16th career start where he allowed zero runs, his third career shutout, his fourth career start allowing one hit, and his only start to date where he allowed just a lone baserunner. Fangraphs now publishes a Game Score 2.0, which is basically an amusing widget of a stat that rates the quality of a start. Teheran's outing gave him a 97, his best mark ever.
But, one awesome start does not a career make. Let's rumble down Memory Lane and see what other superlative starts Teheran has had in his career.
As you probably know, Julio Teheran is having himself a pretty good season, and part of it is because he's been able to generate some very nifty performances amidst occasional struggles. Earlier this season, in May, he did the following to the Brewers:
In case you're averse to videos, well: he pitched seven innings, allowing just a solo homer and two other hits while striking out 12 batters (and walking none). The 12 punchouts represent his career high. Sadly but perhaps fittingly, the Braves actually lost this game, as they managed to score just one run and the bullpen coughed up the tie and the game as soon as he departed. Still, Teheran has substantially improved his strikeout rate this year, including on and above where he was as a rookie, and his ability to throw down with an outing of that sort is one of the reasons why he continues to ooze potential.
By the way, this was also his best career start by xFIP, SIERA, and by K/BB ratio (or K%-BB%).
FIP is a way of describing pitcher success based solely on their walks, strikeouts, and homers allowed. FIP is set to the ERA scale, so even though it doesn't really mean "runs given up per nine innings," the numbers are made to be pretty similar, even though they don't mean anything in and of themselves. This scaling causes some pretty rare, but silly occurrences, like the time Julio Teheran posted a negative FIP of -0.15.
How did he do it? Well, it was a start in his 2013 rookie season against the Rockies, where he struck out 11 and walked two while allowing no homers. He only lasted five innings in this game (the Braves had a 5-1 lead at that point, anyway) as his pitch count soared (103 through five) due to the strikeouts, but he did manage an RBI double as well. Also, Jose Constanza pinch-hit for him in this game, which is a thing that definitely happened.
Fun facts: This was Chad Bettis' first career start. Aside from Teheran, Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado, I think none of the players in the video above are with their respective teams anymore. Also, Jason Heyward and Justin Upton combined for three homers in this game. Imagine a single tear rolling down my cheek, here.
Sure, this wasn't the greatest start, but it's always awesome when you strike out literally half of the batters you face. (Not just the ones you retire, but all batters you face, including those reaching base.)
WPA (Win Probability Added) is, unlike many advanced stats, not context-neutral. For pitchers, this means that racking up outs in close games provides more of this particular stat than pitching in a blowout. Therefore, the WPA crown among Teheran's starts goes to this snazzy 2014 outing, where he pitched a complete game shutout in the bandbox known as Citizens Bank Park, outdueling a gentleman named Cliff Lee in the process.
This start was a shutout of the three-hit variety; all three knocks were singles. The lone run was an Evan Gattis homer, and the Braves won in exhilarating but aggravating fashion, as they managed 11 singles and a walk in addition to the homer, but didn't manage to score any other runs. They also struck out 13 times, because that Cliff Lee guy was really good.
Teheran managed a WPA of 0.784 in the game. Each team starts with a 50% chance to win the game, so he actually made up for the deficit from the Braves' hitters, and then some, in the outing. The leverage kept increasing with every successive batter he mowed down, but he persevered and delivered the victory in stride.
Another 2013 outing here, in which Teheran elicited a whiff on over a fifth of the total pitches he threw. (The exact SwStr% is 20.6%.) I actually remember this start really well: he one-hit the Pirates for eight innings as the Braves cruised to a 5-0 win in a day game.
The video embed below doesn't do it that much justice, and neither does an MLB.tv Condensed Game, necessarily, because the whiffs Teheran generated here weren't just to get strikeouts, even though he managed 11 of those on the afternoon (and two walks). Instead, he was pretty much unhittable to the Pittsburgh bats.
No-hitters take more than dominance: they usually require some luck. Teheran did all he could into the eighth, and a sleepy weekday afternoon morphing into a no-hitter seemed like a very real possibility. But, with two outs in the eighth, pinch-hitter Brandon Inge singled to break up the no-no. Teheran retired Starling Marte to end the frame, and didn't go back out for the ninth, having already thrown 107 pitches. By the way, that was Inge's last career season, in which he put up a 20 wRC+ and managed just 19 hits. Sadly, one of those hits thwarted no-hitter dreams that day.
Julio Teheran's next start will come later this week. Will he do something awesome again? Only one way to find out.