When designated, Foltynewicz was available to the rest of the majors. Under normal circumstances, it’d be easy to see a team taking a shot. Foltynewicz was among the National League’s best starters two seasons ago, and after a rocky start in 2019, he was the team’s best pitcher down the stretch.
For now, Foltynewicz will stay with the Braves. He’s off the 40-man roster and will try to recover his form at the team’s alternate site.
“If he had options, we probably would’ve just optioned him to the alternate site instead of DFA’ing for the same reason: to get himself back going,” Snitker said. “It’s good for him to be able to go there and see if he can get himself going again. Just go and, if he’s not hurting or whatever, get his stuff back. Lord knows we have a long way to go. The more guys you can keep in the system, the better off we’re going to be.”
Foltynewicz has had a bizarre career thus far. He was a hard-throwing but erratic pitching prospect, flashing front-line stuff over his first four seasons but failing to find consistency. He finally broke through in 2018, when he had a 2.85 ERA and struck out 202 over 183 innings.
After a horrific start to 2019, the Braves optioned Foltynewicz to Triple-A. He returned with a vengeance in August, resembling the pitcher from 2018. Foltnewicz pitched seven scoreless innings in a Game 2 victory in the NL Division Series. That good work was undone in Game 5, when he recorded only one out during the Cardinals’ 10-run first inning.
While at the alternate site, expect Foltynewicz to emphasize gaining weight again. He already had mentioned to Snitker that he wanted to add another 15 pounds before the designation. Foltynewicz has appeared much slimmer, which likely affected his velocity.
The 28-year-old has exhibited strikingly low velocity since camp reopened earlier this month. The decline was evident in his intrasquad start, his exhibition outing against the Marlins and his most recent appearance versus the Rays.
After averaging around a 95-mph fastball last season, Foltynewicz’s velocity hovered at 89 on Monday. He peaked at 92 mph. The Braves, referencing an increased urgency during a trimmed season, saw enough to pull the plug.
“He mentioned he was already working to get weight back,” Snitker said. “I think that’s something, too, you have to go about it the right way, in how you train and eat, your diet, the whole thing.
“He’s a power guy. As his velocity improves, the breaking stuff will. Hopefully that’ll take care of it.”