On Monday morning, we found out officially what I had expected for the better part of the last week and a half: Mike Foltynewicz will not be available for the start of the regular season. Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos confirmed the news before the Braves contest against the Pirates at Disney. After making his 2019 debut 15 days ago, Folty was bothered by elbow soreness and hasn’t pitched since. Folty has been seen by team doctors and could resume throwing in the next few days. But, with two and a half weeks to go until Opening Day, there’s simply not enough days left on the calendar to get ramped up to where he’d need to be for the start of the season. And with the club not needing that fifth starter until April 7th with a handful of early offdays, it buys more time for Foltynewicz to get himself ready to join the Atlanta rotation.
So with the clubs (likely) Opening Day starter unavailable, the big question now becomes “who starts on Opening Day in Philly?” My answer: Julio Teheran. He’s been the man on the mound for each of the last five season openers, and based on his experience and the fact the Phillies have a righty heavy lineup, it seems to line up that Teheran would get the nod. For the remainder of that series, I’m predicting Sean Newcomb and Kevin Gausman are the next two out of the gate, leaving whoever earns the final spot in the rotation to be lined up to start the Home Opener against the Cubs on April 1. At this point in camp, it’s hard to argue against Kyle Wright getting that nod, as he’s been stellar through three Grapefruit League outings. Fastball command of both his two and four seamer have been solid, and he’s also been able to locate his breaking ball and use it as an effective out pitch.
With less than two weeks to go until the Braves head north for a quick stop through Atlanta, the team is leaning towards utilizing just those four starters, and could opt for an extra arm in the bullpen or go a different direction and carry a third catcher, likely Alex Jackson. As for other Atlanta arms that have been slowed during camp, AJ Minter and Darren O’Day are still likely on track to be ready for Opening Day. Though, again, the calendar could start working against both as we get closer and closer to the end of camp.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet