|Foltynewicz has been the Braves best starter in 2017|
In January of 2015, the Atlanta Braves dealt emerging power-hitting catcher Evan Gattis to the Houston Astros along with relief prospect James Hoyt.
In return, Atlanta received a package led by a former Astros first round draft pick. Pitcher Mike Foltynewicz had been Houston’s selection at 19th overall in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
Foltynewicz would make his Braves debut on May 1, and would remain a member of the Atlanta starting rotation for most of the summer. However, in mid-August he began to feel sick, and was suffering from chest pain.
It took weeks, but he was finally diagnosed with costochondritis, an inflammation in the cartilage connecting the ribs to the sternum. The condition developed into pneumonia.
He was then further diagnosed with blood clots in the ribs after his arm suddenly swelled overnight. Diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, he was required to undergo a rib removal.
Beginning the 2016 campaign back with AAA Gwinnett, he once again got the call to the big leagues as May began. But in early June, physical issues arose once again. Foltynewicz suffered from a bone spur on his elbow. He would miss nearly the entire month due to that injury.
EMERGENCE AS RELIABLE STARTER
Returning to the Braves on June 29, Foltynewicz would take a regular turn in the Atlanta rotation for the remainder of the 2016 season. Over his final 15 starts, he went 7-3 with a 4.55 ERA and an 81/25 K:BB ratio over 87 innings.
This season, Foltynewicz has appeared in 20 games for Atlanta, 19 of them starts. He has a 9-5 record with a 3.82 ERA and 1.383 WHIP, with a 101/39 K:BB ratio.
Over his last 10 starts, Foltynewicz has begun to up his game. The 6’4″, 220 pound, 25-year old right-hander has gone 6-0 in those 10 outings. He has a 3.30 ERA in that span, allowing just 56 hits over 60 innings with a 60/24 K:BB mark. Seven of those performances have been of the Quality Start variety.
On June 30 against the Oakland A’s, Foltynewicz took a no-hitter into the ninth inning before losing it to a leadoff home run by Matt Olson on a 3-2 pitch.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER WHILE HAVING FUN
Braves manager Brian Snitker was recently quoted by David O’Brien with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution regarding the pitcher.
“I really feel like Folty’s starting to trust himself and believe in himself,” Snitker said. “He’s pitching with some confidence and conviction and belief that he can withstand some adversity of the course of a game now. More just kind of trusting his stuff and believing in himself is the big thing.”
As for the pitcher himself, O’Brien quotes that he is just happy to be a part of that rotation on a regular basis, and having fun.
“I think I’m putting together a lot of good quality starts back to back, giving the team a good chance to win, having a little winning streak when I’m out there. So it’s all fun, and that was the plan coming out of spring training, keep pushing and keep attacking hitters. Keep going out there and pitching the way I am.”
In Foltynewicz, the Braves appear to have found a reliable long-term starting pitcher. Since he cannot become a free agent until after the 2022 season, Atlanta could have him as a part of their mix for at least the next five years.