It is some kind of fall to go from earning a top-10 finish in Cy Young voting to being demoted to the minors in just an 11-game span, but that is exactly what happened to Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz this summer. A 2.85 ERA, 3.37 FIP, and 3.8 WAR in 183 innings in 2018 led to an eighth-place Cy Young finish and set him up to become the ace that would guide this next generation of great Braves teams. Then this season got started, and Foltynewicz looked like a disaster.
He missed the first four weeks of the season due to a bone spur in his pitching elbow, and when he returned, he allowed a 6.37 ERA over his first 11 starts. Twice he allowed eight earned runs in fewer than five innings. He had two other starts in which he allowed five earned runs, and two others in which he allowed four. When Dallas Keuchel joined the rotation near the end of June, the choice for who would be the odd man out to make room for him was clear: Foltynewicz had to go.
That was just three months ago, but just as quickly as he lost all direction, Foltynewicz has re-established himself as a formidable starter. Since returning from the minors, he’s held opponents to a 2.65 ERA in 57.2 innings. Take away his first two starts, and he’s been even better: A 1.94 ERA since August 17 that ranks sixth-best in the majors. Even in a Braves rotation that looked very strong for much of the season, Foltynewicz has pitched well enough to just about lock himself in to start one of the first two games of the NLDS against the Cardinals. Without a doubt, it’s been an impressively quick return to form, but there are still a few questions surrounding how he stacks up against the rest of the Braves’ pitching staff as a playoff starter. Read the rest of this entry »