The Braves have decided to designate righty Mike Foltynewicz for assignment, manager Brian Snitker told reporters including MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter). He’ll be replaced by reliever Chad Sobotka on the active roster.
This certainly rates as an early-season stunner. The 28-year-old Foltynewicz has had his ups and downs in Atlanta, to be sure. He was an All-Star just two seasons ago before experiencing enough difficulty last year that the Braves demoted him to the minors in late June. However, Foltynewicz rebounded when the Braves recalled him in early August, and they’re now committed to paying him a pro-rated portion of his $6,425,000 salary this season — unless another team makes a claim — and will be giving up another season of arbitration control.
Foltynewicz certainly didn’t look himself in his season debut today, coughing up six earned runs and three long balls while lasting just 3 1/3 innings in a blowout loss to the Rays. More importantly, he demonstrated a collapse in velocity that has been a concern during the pre-season ramp up.
“His stuff hasn’t been there,” Snitker told David O’Brien of The Athletic and other reporters in regards to Foltynewicz, who has averaged better than 95 mph on his fastball since he debuted with the Astros in 2014 but is now struggling to hit 90.
It seems as if the Braves have simply seen enough to determine that Folty won’t find another gear in 2020. No doubt the club will now count upon another team to take over the salary obligations — if not also to kick in something of value in return. Despite his current issues, Foltynewicz’s age and track record of production suggest any number of teams could take a chance on him. To this point, he has thrown 682 2/3 innings of matching 4.27 ERA/FIP ball with 8.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 at baseball’s highest level.
Atlanta, meanwhile, continues to deal with unexpected changes in its rotation. Perhaps in an ideal situation, Foltynewicz would have made up one-fifth of the back-to-back NL East champions’ starting staff alongside Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Cole Hamels and Felix Hernandez. Now, though, the only ones standing are Soroka and Fried – before the Foltynewicz DFA, Hamels went on the 45-day injured list because of a triceps issue and Hernandez opted out of the campaign as a result of coronavirus concerns.
Without Folty, Hamels and Hernandez, the Braves are down to Sean Newcomb and Kyle Wright as complements to Soroka and Fried. And while the likes of Jhoulys Chacin and Josh Tomlin carry plenty of experience as starters, Snitker said the Braves could use an opener instead of a traditional rotation option for the time being.