Julio Teheran was fifth in NL Rookie of the Year voting last season. (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Julio Teheran has made his way to the top of the Braves' injury-depleted rotation, as the 23-year-old will start for Atlanta on Opening Day, March 31 in Milwaukee, manager Fredi Gonzalez announced on Saturday.
"I think he's mature enough to handle it," Gonzalez said. "People tell you it's not that big of a deal. But I think it's a big deal."
Teheran, a native of Colombia, went 14-8 with a 3.20 ERA in 30 starts last season, his first full year in the majors.
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"I'm happy," Teheran said. "It's a great honor to be the starting pitcher on Opening Day. I just want to say thanks for the opportunity. I have been working hard and it has paid off."
Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy are slated for Tommy John surgery, and Ervin Santana and Mike Minor won't be ready to join the rotation until mid-April, so the Braves will go with four starters the first two weeks of the season. Alex Wood, Freddy Garcia and rookie David Hale will join Teheran.
In five spring starts, Teheran has a 1.42 ERA with 17 strikeouts and three walks. He struck out 170 and walked 45 in 185 2/3 innings last season, and he signed a six-year, $32.4 million contract extension last month.
"Last year, I was trying to [be] the fifth starter," Teheran said. "This year, when I was working out in the offseason, I was thinking I can be the first one. That gave me more motivation. When I put goals in my mind, that is when I start working harder."SI WIRE: Rangers' Yu Darvish misses start with sore neck