The Atlanta Braves lost Monday night. Losses happen, but it’s rare you see a team unceremoniously designate for assignment a pitcher who threw a seven-inning, three-hit shutout in game two of the NLDS.
Mike Foltynewicz took the mound in St Petersburgh Monday night hoping to regain the form he showed in the last 10 starts of the 2019 season for the Atlanta Braves. Instead, he served up three gopher balls, back-to-back homers to Hunter Renfroe and Joey Wendle, and left the games after surrendering six runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Rumors circulated in the spring that Foltynewicz’s velocity was down, and there was no sign of it returning during summer camp. In the last game against the Marlins, his best heater touched slightly over 91mph.
Mark Bowman reports that he managed a little better tonight but not consistently.
…his fastball averaged 89.3 mph and topped out at 92.9 mph. This same pitch averaged 95 mph last year and 96.5 mph during his 2018 All-Star season
Speculation on Twitter during the game ranged from something physical to a hangover from the NLDS game five debacle last season. No one suspected that almost as soon as the Atlanta Braves reached the clubhouse, we’d find out they were through with Foltynewicz.
According to manager Brian Snitker, they knew his velocity was down but wanted to see if being in a real game made a difference.
The way Snitker made the announcement could indicate there’s more to this than a pitcher who lost his mojo, Snitker is a players’ manager; he loves all of his players and treats them well, standing between them and the press when necessary.
His attitude Monday night seemed less concerned about that and more aware of the short-season ahead.
Maybe Mike knew this was a do-or-die game when he toed the rubber, but Snitker’s explanation rings a little hollow. It seems more likely that they had no one else they felt comfortable slotting into the start and rolled the dice. Unfortunately for Mike, they came up snake-eyes.