Braves who could experience regression in the second half


Mike Foltynewicz

Folty was the lone member of the Braves pitching staff to make it to Washington for the All-Star game. Make no mistake, it was well deserved. He was good as any pitcher in the majors over the first three months of the season, including June where he finished with a 1.13 ERA in the month over four starts. That dropped his ERA to a minuscule 2.02 heading into July.

However, July has not been the month Folty had in mind. Despite being named an All-Star, he really struggled in his final three starts before the break, failing to record a quality start and gave up 10 earned runs in just 17.2 innings pitched.

In fact, quality starts are something Foltynewicz has struggled with all season, even in the midst of an All-Star campaign. Teammates Sean Newcomb and Julio Teheran have more than double the amount of quality starts (11) than Folty has (5) on the season.

However, watching Folty over the course of this season, a stat like this should really come as no surprise. Too many times does he find himself in deep counts, or even worse, walking batters, which makes it almost impossible for him to get out of the sixth inning. So far, these walks and deep counts have not resulted in runs, but it is hard to imagine Foltynewicz repeating his first half if he cannot be more aggressive in attacking batters. Combine that with his lackluster pitching performances so far in July, and regression in the second half almost seems imminent.

Anibal Sanchez

Another starting pitcher, Sanchez has been an extraordinary story this year for the Braves. Sanchez’s career began with the Marlins, where as a 22-year old, he posted a 10-3 record and 2.83 ERA. Fast forward through multiple injuries and teams later, Sanchez finds himself as a 34-year old veteran on a young Braves team, looking like his 22-year old self.

In eleven starts, Sanchez is 4-2 with a 2.60 ERA. That ERA would be just .03 points higher than his 13-year career low of 2.57 that he posted back in 2013 with the Detroit Tigers. This is a pitcher that is on his last leg, even if he might not look like it, and has a career ERA of 4.03. It would be somewhat miraculous if he was able to continue pitching as well as he is for the remainder of the season.

Ozzie Albies

Ozzie has deservedly become a fan favorite in Atlanta for the way he plays the game. He is always hustling, plays outstanding defense and has hit as well as anyone in the lineup. It also does not hurt that he does all of it with a bright smile of a kid who just loves the game.

I guess it is easy to smile when you are hitting .281 with 20 home runs in your first full season in the majors. Those numbers were good enough to earn him his first All-Star appearance, but are they really sustainable 162 games?

At 5’8, 165 pounds, nobody expected Albies to be a power bat coming into the majors. Maybe that would be a part of his game that came later in his career, but imagining him hitting thirty home runs as a rookie would be astounding considering he hit just sixteen home runs his entire minor league career. That’s 390 games, 1,555 at bats and just sixteen times did he touch them all with one swing.

Sustaining this pace for 35 home runs in his rookie season may have seemed crazy at one point. However, Ozzie has shown the Braves faithful already that he is one of a kind.

Arodys Vizcaino

Vizcaino is having a career year in his fifth major league season, registering more than a strikeout per inning and an ERA of well under two as the Braves closer. A younger player who has some experience under his belt now, it might be time that he finally started reaching his potential.

There are some things to be worried about nevertheless. While is WHIP numbers are better than they have been in the past, he still has a problem with having quiet innings. He is often having to pitch in high stress situations with the game on the line. It does not matter how talented a pitcher is, eventually teams will capitalize in those positions.

One could also argue that Viz is simply outperforming his talent as well. These are numbers that he has only sniffed in 2015 when he was not the primary closer and only pitched in 33.2 innings that year. Throw in his shoulder issues that have landed him on the ten-day DL not once but twice now, and it is easy to see why Alex Anthopolous has put an emphasis on finding more help in the pen.

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