Emerging Braves ace Mike Foltynewicz left Tuesday night’s game against the Mets with right triceps tightness after pitching five scoreless of two-hit ball in an 8-2 win.
The hard-throwing right-hander, who allowed no walks and had six strikeouts in 73 pitches, said tightnesss cropped up in the triceps (muscle on the back side of upper arm) after his last start. He and the Braves said the move Tuesday was precautionary and he’s expected to make his next start.
Foltynewicz and lefty Sean Newcomb have been the Braves’ best starters this season, with Foltynewicz posting a 0.86 ERA and .163 opponents’ average in his past seven starts.
“I’ve kind of had this tightness after my last start really,” he said. “We’ve been working it out, able to throw bullpens through it and everything. There were just a couple of times in the fourth and fifth innings there where I was kind of tweaking my mechanics to kind of get through it.
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“Even though it wasn’t sore or anything during the game, when you came to sit down it got a little tighter. But it’s nothing to worry about at all. We’re going to get it taken care of this week and get prepared for the next start.”
“That’s plenty of time to get it taken care of. I’m not worried about it.”
Because of an off day in the schedule and the return of rookie Mike Soroka from the disabled list to start Tuesday, Foltynewicz would have two extra days of rest before he’s scheduled to pitch again in one week at Toronto.
“He’s OK,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “His tricep was tightening up on him and the biggest concern that we had was that he started adjusting his delivery, if it was uncomfortable that he was going to do something different. So that’s just why after five we kind of erred on the side of caution.
“I think everything checked out good, it’s just some tightness. He’s not scheduled to pitch until a week from today anyway, so he’ll have some extra time.”
Foltynewicz spoke briefly with pitching coach Chuck Hernandez on the bench after his ground-out to start the bottom of the fifth inning, before the two walked up a hallway toward the clubhouse.
“Yeah, Chuck right when he (told Foltynewicz they were going to replace him), he said, ‘I know you’re going to be mad at me, but we’re going to take it easy,’” said Foltynewicz, who described how the experience could be good for him in that he pitched a little differently.
“At the same time that I was a little bit sore, it kind of calmed me down a little bit,” he said. “I wasn’t balls-out every single pitch with everything. I just kind of settled down more, was pitching around 94, 95 (mph). Off-speed was still there; I was throwing it for strikes, throwing it to put away guys. Couple of good change-ups, couple of really good curveballs there, so it’s something to really take a positive out of it as well, that all the pitches were working.
“ I had a little tightness in there, so we’ll get that worked out. Fastball command was a little bit rough with the tightness in there, but we’ll get that down to where we were before hopefully and just go from there.”
He said Hernandez noticed in a bullpen session that Foltynewicz slightly changed his delivery due to the soreness on a couple of pitches, and when he saw him do it as the game wore on, Hernandez and Snitker decided to make the move.
“Chuck comes in and watches video (between innings) and he said I was kind of dropping down a little bit in those last two innings,” Foltynewicz said, “so he didn’t want to risk a couple more innings just to get through that. But it’s nothing to worry about, knock on wood.
“It’s something we’re going to get taken care of, get our treatment, keep playing catch and work it out.”
The decision to pull him from the game wasn’t made until after Foltynewicz pitched the top of the fifth, Snitker said. That’s why he ended up batting to lead off the bottom of the inning even though he was coming out of the game.
“I didn’t have time to get anybody up there (to pinch-hit for him),” Snitker said. “By the time we decided that he was done, he was leading off and – we weren’t looking to (replace him), until we brought him in after the inning and talked to him. Then it was just easier for him to do the at-bat. I didn’t have any problem with him hitting right there, but we wanted to bang the pitching part of it.”
Foltynewicz has allowed just 24 hits, four earned runs and 16 walks with 51 strikeouts in 42 innings during his sizzling seven-game stretch, but the Braves scored one or no runs while he was in four. He left with a 1-0 lead Tuesday.
After hitting Michael Conforto with a pitch to start the game, he retired the next 13 batters before consecutive one-out singles in the fifth by Devin Mesoraco and Dominic Smith.
Foltynewicz coaxed a couple of pop-ups to get out of trouble and protect a 1-0 lead.
“He pitched really well,” Snitker said. “The five innings was probably as sharp as I’ve seen him in a while, because he kind of reached back when he had to and, who knows, that feel and the experience he had on that might be good for him down the road. And it was more just a precaution; he could have kept pitching. But once Chuck started seeing the arm angles changing a little bit, I just didn’t like the sound of that.”
He was replaced to start the sixth by left-hander Jesse Biddle, who gave up two runs when he faced five batters and allowed two walks and a double by Jay Bruce, with another runner reaching base against Biddle on an error by shortstop Dansby Swanson.
The Braves took control with a six-run sixth inning that included a Freddie Freeman leadoff homer and Ozzie Albies grand slam.