THE next stage in the gilding of Julio Teheran happens tonight, when the 22-year-old becomes the youngest Braves starter in a post-season game since Steve Avery in the early 1990s.
Teheran had been measured for this moment since he was plucked from his native Colombia at the tender age of 16 and shipped to America marked, "Phenom, Handle With Care." He has had an appointment with such a game since the first time he was identified as one of the franchise's top prospects by Baseball America. It was an appointment confirmed each time he suited up in a minor league clubhouse, always the youngest in the room.
Today, the National League Division Series shifts to Dodger Stadium, tied at one win apiece, an oh-so-important swing game in a five-game series played out before what passes for a hostile crowd in Los Angeles.
Add another cinder block to the burden of potential Teheran has toted for the past five years.
That's OK, he can manage, figure his fellow Braves.
"He knows what he has. He knows what he has to do, what is expected from him every time he goes out," said shortstop Andrelton Simmons, a friend and neighbor of Teheran in the Braves' clubhouse. Such a strong sense of self -- along with the best pure stuff among the Braves starters -- will go far in determining how Teheran shows tonight in Chavez Ravine.
Those who have taken a vested interest in Teheran throughout his rapid climb up the professional staircase, as well as his small backslide last year, have always said that he is the product of his attitude. When he is confident, he is capable of performances like that in June against Pittsburgh, in which he came within four outs of a no-hitter. When he wavers, the fans in the cheap seats had best wear Kevlar (he gave up six home runs in his two-inning spring-training debut in 2012, auguring troubles to come).
The secret, said wise injured veteran Tim Hudson, is in, "trusting your stuff and having confidence and believing you're going to be able to go out there and dominate games.
"That's not going to happen every time out, but you've got to make yourself believe that it's going to happen every time out," he said.
-- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution