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Mark BradleyMark Bradley

Hooray for Julio Teheran, a most deserving All-Star

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How about a hand for a great young pitcher? (Jason Getz/AJC)

How about a hand for a great young pitcher? (Jason Getz/AJC)

Three Atlanta Braves made the National League All-Star squad. Two were all but certainties: Craig Kimbrel is an annual lock; Freddie Freeman is becoming one. I’m usually not one to get worked up over All-Star selections — despite MLB’s attempts to confer True Meaning, it remains an exhibition game — but I have to confess:

I’d have been ticked if Julio Teheran hadn’t made it.

As it was, he made the NL roster as a replacement for Jeff Samardzija, who was traded from Chicago to Oakland — “Moneyball” is going for it all! — over the weekend. That’s a bit of a disappointment. Teheran deserved to be among the first tier of NL starting pitchers for a rather basic reason: He’s absolutely a first-tier starting pitcher.

Even in a half-season that has seen a heap of great pitching, Teheran has carved out a spot among the National League’s top four. (The others: Adam Wainwright, Johnny Cueto and Clayton Kershaw.) Teheran is third among NL pitchers in ERA, third in WHIP (walks/hits per innings pitched), fourth in opponents’ batting average and fifth in WAR (wins above replacement).

He shouldn’t have needed Samardzija’s absence to make it, but the erstwhile Cub got a lot of early publicity for pitching well and not winning. (Plus he played football for Notre Dame! How overhyped can you get?) Teheran has pitched well and not won some winnable games himself — he’s eighth in the majors in lowest run support — but you know who’s tied with Cueto for the NL lead in quality starts? Hint: It’s not the guy who used to catch Brady Quinn’s passes.

Some folks keep saying the Braves need to trade for David Price because they lack an ace. Apparently they haven’t been paying attention. The Braves have an ace. He’s 23 years old. He just made his first All-Star team. And he’s under contract through 2019.

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