He made six starts for the Stripers before rejoining the Braves on Aug. 6. He allowed seven runs across 11-1/3 innings in his first two starts back. But since then, he has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of seven consecutive starts, one run or none in each of his past four. He has a 1.19 ERA over his past six starts.
“Since he’s come back from the minor leagues,” Braves catcher Brian McCann said, “he’s been as good as anybody.”
Foltynewicz elevated his recent success with Friday’s stellar performance in the division-clinching 6-0 win over San Francisco. He allowed three hits (all by Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski), struck out seven and afterward said he appreciated his role in the big night “a lot more” because of all that preceded it this season.
“To keep my head down and keep grinding like I did -- just to be able to be in the spot I am is pretty special to me,” Foltynewicz said. “I had a great support staff, not only here at the field, but my family, my friends.
“After all the stuff that happened this year, (I’m) very proud of myself. ... But it has been a long year.”
And it’s far from over for him or his team. The Braves are headed to the playoffs for the second consecutive year, with Foltynewicz having pitched the division-clinching game both times. His recent performances heartily endorse him for a spot in the postseason starting rotation.
“Hopefully I’m on that (postseason) roster, bullpen, starter, whatever it is,” he said. “But just over the past seven starts, I’ve kind of shown that I’m still a starting pitcher and can throw the ball up there and get through six-seven innings and help the team win.”
The pitcher who was 2-5 with a 6.37 ERA in 11 starts before his demotion to the minors? He is 6-0 with a 2.35 ERA in nine starts since his return to the majors.
“It looks like he’s starting to peak right now at a good time,” manager Brian Snitker said.
Foltynewicz believes he “absolutely” is pitching as well now as at this point last year.
“My slider is back. And not only that, we’ve been mixing pitches, using the change-up, using the curveball,” he said. “Getting early ground-ball outs allows me to get deep in the game. The two-seamer has been really good for me lately to get those ground balls. I have been pitching instead of throwing. And we’re here.”