Over the years, the Braves have been blessed with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to starting pitching. Which is what makes Mike Foltynewicz’s season all the more impressive. On Friday night, Folty became just the sixth pitcher in Atlanta era history with 200 strikeouts in a single season. The feat was last accomplished by Javier Vazquez who punched out 238 batters back in 2009, over a span of 219.1 innings of work.
For Foltynewicz, an All-Star for the first time in 2018, it’s been a season he’s been working towards since he joined the Braves. Last year, he was as good as the club had through the first four months. But in August and September, Folty seemingly ran out of gas and stumbled towards the finish line. But this season, it’s been a much different story. He’s found his confidence. He’s been able to slow the game down. And most importantly, he’s worked ahead in the count. The addition of the slider has also proven to be an effective weapon. Last year, he utilized the pitch about 23% of the time. This year, the slider usage has upped to nearly 30%.
Equally impressive this season has been Folty’s average against. Over 32 starts this season, Foltynewicz posted a .195 average against as the Braves became just the fourth team in MLB history to have multiple starting pitchers post an average against below .200 (others: 1968 Indians, 1986 Astros, 2015 Dodgers). It’s been a season of tremendous growth for Mike Foltyneiwcz, who has certainly earned the right to get the nod in Thursdays NLDS opener. Who he’ll face may not be determined until Sunday. Or later. So stay tuned to the out-of-town scoreboard and keep an eye on both the Dodgers and Rockies!
@KevinMcAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet