After just one start in the 2020 season, the Braves have already decided to DFA Mike Foltynewicz. While the move is somewhat surprising, given he was just the team’s starter in a winner-take-all Game 5 the last time he was on the mound in a game that counted, there probably aren’t too many people calling the Braves idiots.
Folty just hasn’t had it since the restart. His velocity has continued to plummet (it sat below 90 today against the Rays), and he doesn’t possess the type of off-speed stuff to survive when his fastball isn’t humming in the mid to upper-90s. The Braves also don’t have enough time in a 60-game season to wait for things to come together. That’s pretty much what Brian Snitker re-iterated after Monday’s game.
Snit on Folty's velo: "it's just not happening for whatever reason. We're not in a position right now, in this shortened season, to wait for something to happen. He says he feels good. I really don't know" #Braves
— 680 The Fan (@680TheFan) July 28, 2020
With the way Folty has looked throughout Spring Training 2.0, I find it difficult to believe he will be able to turn things around this season. However, given the need for starting pitching around the league, some team will surely take a flier on him. But as far as the Braves go, it’s time for them to start searching for a replacement.
Brian Snitker said the team might go with an opener in his place next time around.
Foltynewicz will be DFA's by #Braves. Snit said they could use an opener or couple other options in his spot in 5 days. Didn't name any specific pitcher. Told Folty already. "His stuff hasn't been there," Snitker said.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) July 28, 2020
However, that’s not sustainable. Eventually, the club is going to have to find a fifth starter. Here are the most likely candidates.
For now, the most natural choice would be Jhoulys Chacin, who the Braves just picked up last week. The veteran has gobs of experience and is just a couple of years removed from being a productive starter. In 2018, he recorded a 15-8 record with a 3.50 ERA in 35 starts for the Milwaukee Brewers, and in 2017, he had a 3.89 ERA in 32 starts for the San Diego Padres. The 32-year-old made his Braves debut on Sunday night, earning his first win after tossing 3.2 scoreless innings. At the very least, Chacin can start in Folty’s place until they find a more reliable option with more upside.
The Braves could give Bryse Wilson another look, but he really struggled last year in Atlanta, and I’m not sure that’s a risk the organization would be willing to take in this shortened season. However, he was much more efficient in Gwinnett, posting a 10-7 record with a 3.72 ERA in 2019 for the Stripers.
After Monday’s game, going from Mike Foltynewicz to Toussaint feels like more of the same. Toussaint may have better stuff, but he still hasn’t been able to put it together. And in his first relief appearance on Monday, he surrendered six earned runs in just 2.2 innings. Toussaint will have to show more consistency before earning another opportunity in the rotation.
During Spring Training 2.0, it looked like the Braves were grooming Tomlin for a potential role as a starter just in case. Brian Snitker talked about possibly using an opener. In that scenario, you have to think Tomlin could be an option. And if he isn’t starting in Folty’s place this weekend, he’ll likely be used to bridge the gap between whoever does and the back end of the bullpen.
Here’s where things begin to get interesting. As far as this list goes, Davidson has some of the most upside. The lefty was electric last year for Mississippi, recording a minuscule 2.03 ERA in 21 starts before being promoted to Gwinnett at the end of the year, where he didn’t miss a beat, posting a 2.84 ERA in four starts for the Stripers. Davidson also looked fantastic in both Spring Trainings. As far as prospects go, he’s the one that appears the most MLB ready, and it seems like a matter of time before the Braves give him an opportunity.
Anderson, the Braves’ third overall pick in the 2016 draft, is the highest-rated pitching prospect in the Braves system. He recorded a 2.68 ERA last year for Mississippi with a ridiculous 147 strikeouts in just 111 innings. Like Davidson, he received the call to AAA at the end of the season, but he didn’t have the same success, finishing with a 6.57 ERA in five starts for the Stripers. Anderson’s also looked excellent in both Spring Trainings. However, I’d give Davidson the nod as far as who is ready to make an impact for the Braves today.