The Braves have clinched the NL East for the second year in a row! How exhilarating does that feel to say after everyone counted us out despite running away with the division last year? The next step: win their first playoff series since 2001, and maybe win 100 games before they get there. One of the biggest questions over the last couple of months entering the postseason was who would be included in the playoff rotation. After last night, there is no doubt that Mike Foltynewicz belongs right in the middle of it.
The enigmatic ace from 2018 is officially all the way back, as he tossed eight innings of shutout baseball, allowing just three hits in a 6-0 victory to clinch the division. It was the moment that brought Folty’s 2019 full circle. From starting the year injured, to being so porous that the Braves had to demote him to Gwinnett for well over a month, to returning as – dare I say it – the Braves best pitcher on the roster… That is the beauty of baseball.
It wasn’t just last night either that Folty proved he was back to the pitcher that earned the Game 1 start in the NLDS a season ago. Since his return, he’s posted a 2.35 ERA, and in his last six starts, he’s boasting a minuscule 1.19 ERA. The question is no longer whether Foltynewicz deserves to start in the NLDS – it’s which game.
Snitker has several quality options to throw out there, and all five in the rotation deserve an opportunity. Unfortunately, only four can make the cut, so it will be up to Snitker to pull the right cards and find the proper role for each of these guys.
Mike Foltynewicz deserves a spot in the top three. You could even make the case that he should start Game 1 because of the way he’s looked of late. I wouldn’t go that far. To me, Keuchel’s experience in the postseason, along with his stellar performance recently as well, should take the mound in Game 1 for the Braves, but Game 2 could be in the cards for Foltynewicz. That one will be at home, and it is worth noting Folty has only allowed three earned runs in his last 23.2 innings at SunTrust Park. However, on the season, he has a slightly worse ERA at home than on the road. Meanwhile, Mike Soroka has been lights out on the road, posting a 7-1 record with a ridiculous 1.35 ERA. If I’m Brian Snitker, I’m looking at that and starting Mike Foltynewicz in Game 2 and trusting the rookie on the road in a Game 3.