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Can Julio Teheran keep boogeyman Bryce Harper in check?

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Julio Teheran has more than his fair share of struggles against Bryce Harper. Will he be able to turn things around tonight?

MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the Braves ran into Tanner Roark, Bryce Harper and the rest of the Nationals and it didn’t end well for them. Roark kept the Braves on a leash for seven innings and Harper walked four times and hit a dinger as well in an 8-1 defeat for the home team. While this is clearly a “back to life, back to reality” moment for our Braves, the good news is that this is baseball and there’s always a chance to bounce back and keep on moving, which is what they’ll try to do tonight in the second game of this series.

Julio Teheran will be making his second start of the season and while his first start wasn’t bad, he’ll surely be looking to improve upon 5.2 innings with four earned runs against the Phillies. If not for Gabe Kapler deciding to pull Aaron Nola, that probably would have been a loss for the Braves and a repeat performance would likely result in a loss tonight against the Nationals.

If you’re looking to get a break from Bryce Harper being a terror, chances are that it may not come tonight with Teheran on the mound. In 45 plate appearances against Julio, Harper has been hitting .459/.556/1.108 with seven walks and 10 extra base hits — seven of those being homers. It’s hard enough to beat this Nationals team already and having Harper run roughshod over you is a surefire recipe for disaster.

While Julio won’t have to deal with his other Nationals boogeyman in the form of Daniel Murphy, it’ll still be imperative for Julio to keep the ball inside of the park against the rest of the Nationals lineup that has already come out of the gates strong in the infancy of this new season.

On the flip side of things, the Braves will be challenging A.J. Cole tonight and Cole will be looking to exorcise some bad demons that have been haunting him when it comes to the Braves. Cole has made two appearances against Atlanta and both of them were pretty bad. He was the one who made the spot start in that wacky 13-12 game back in 2015 and didn’t pitch past the second inning after giving up nine runs while only being credited with four. What a way to make your major league debut, huh?

More recently, Cole made a relief appearance last September and once again, it didn’t go well for him against the Braves. He pitched two innings and faced 11 batters during that span. This included a home run from Ozzie Albies and an RBI single from, of all people, Julio Teheran. Of course, you should never pin your hopes of offensive success on the pitcher coming through, but it’s just one of those weird baseball coincidences that comes up from time to time.

Being that A.J. Cole only has four innings of experience against the Braves with an entire year sandwiched in-between appearances, that means that we’ve only got extremely small sample sizes to go by and so we’ll have to go by what the scouting report (via Brooks Baseball) has on him. Simply put, if you’re going to run into anybody in Washington’s rotation, this is the guy that you want to see. That’s no guarantee of victory — not by a long shot — but if the Braves are going to be putting a crooked number on the scoreboard at any point tonight, this would be their best chance to do so at any point during the series.

The main thing is that we all want to see some sort of improvement over what happened last night. It’s never fun to lose anyways, and losing by seven runs and trailing for the vast majority of the game is just a bummer and lame in general. Hopefully we’ll see more action tonight and a win, to boot.

Game Info:

Time/Date: Tuesday, April 3, 7:35 PM ET

Venue: SunTrust Park

TV: Fox Sports South

Streaming: MLB.tv

Radio: 680 the Fan (WCNN AM) or 106.7 (WYAY FM) on the Braves Radio Network