Atlanta Braves: Was Bartolo Colon better than Julio Teheran?

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 30: Bartolo Colon
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 30: Bartolo Colon /

Stopgap season has ended for the Atlanta Braves. Fragile bridges between now and future prospects are being scrapped.

Early in the offseason, General Manager John Coppolella thought it a good idea to jump the pitching market. It has resulted in a mixed bag in one hand and a ripped bag in the other. Bartolo Colon just did not find success with the Atlanta Braves. But was his performance comparable to others struggling on the staff like Julio Teheran?

As soon as Atlanta designated Colon for assignment, there was talk of the move being unfair. That his performance so far warranted a dash or two more of patience when looking at Teheran’s season in comparison. Extra note: Check nostalgia at the door.

Teheran has not followed up on his All-Star 2016 campaign. Some preach regression and point to a similar Jose Quintana in the same breath. The take stems from improper use of the Fielding Independent Pitching statistic. Teheran’s 5.77 isn’t pretty, and a 5.30 ERA makes it appear as if Teheran has been so much luckier than Colon. Colon’s FIP at 5.07, with an ERA of 8.14, gives the illusion of Big Sexy having pitched better with worse results.

As a fan, you have got to look at more than one box on the Baseball-Reference page. Of course, there will always be the person who must make something out of nothing for the sake of controversy. There’s a better case to build somewhere else.

Let’s work this out with the Quality Start statistic, but break it apart a bit more. How many starts have the two pitchers put together where they went six innings or more? Teheran’s 11-for-16 dwarfs Big Sexy’s 3-for-13. How many starts have the two put together where they allowed more than three earned runs? Teheran has six. Colon has nine. Nice.

Considering Teheran has pitched nearly 50 percent more innings, the below comparison is even more fun. Bartolo is in bold:

"IP- 63, 90Hits- 92, 96Runs- 66, 59ER- 57, 53HR- 11, 19"

So why does Colon appear to have it together more than Teheran? The answer is quite simple. His FIP is lower, but just about every pitch he throws goes for a hit it seems. FIP is more dependent on home runs than it is hits. This hurts Teheran. Number of hits aren’t even directly included in the FIP formula.

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Teheran has always struggled somewhat with the long ball. His career high in a season is 27 in 200.2 innings back in 2015. Assuming the same workload in 2017, he is on pace to allow about 42. That would be top-10 all-time for a pitcher in one season.

Of the home runs Teheran has allowed this season, 12 of those bombs came in Teheran’s six games with more than three runs allowed (shocking). He went 26 innings in those six starts (avg. 4.1 each) and gave up 40 earned runs. He handed out a free base in every other inning and a home run in just over every two innings.

This sort of pitching leads to a 13.58 ERA.

When you give a free pass to so many hitters and then a dinger follows, of course your FIP is trash. Simply stated, Teheran is beating himself in a way, and Colon can’t beat anybody.

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So, what did we learn? On the surface, it seems Colon has done a better job in accordance to FIP. When looking deeper as we always should, we see Teheran has performed poorly in a way that is reflected more so in spirit of the FIP statistic than just plain being bad. Colon was pitching worse – just in a different way.