Foltynewicz returns to Braves’ rotation Saturday

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Mike Foltynewicz is pronounced "Ful-ta-nev-ich." People often call him "Folty."

Mike Foltynewicz, the Braves’ best starting pitcher last season, finally will make his first major-league start of 2019 on Saturday night.

He missed almost all of spring training and the start of the season because of right elbow soreness stemming from a bone spur. He recently made four minor-league rehabilitation starts with the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers.

When he faces the Colorado Rockies at SunTrust Park,  Foltynewicz will be the ninth pitcher to start a game for the Braves this season. His return, provided he remains healthy, should go a long way toward solidifying the rotation.

“We’re headed in the right direction here, getting the pieces back,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said Friday. “It’ll be good to get him out there and regular.”

Foltynewicz will join Kevin Gausman, Max Fried, Mike Soroka and Julio Teheran in the Braves’ current rotation. Gausman, who opened the season on the injured list with right shoulder tendinitis, has made four starts since returning to the active roster. Soroka, who also was sidelined in spring training with right shoulder soreness, has made two impressive starts since he was promoted from Gwinnett.

“We’ve been excited about getting the guys back, getting them stretched out and getting them in their routines,” Snitker said. “We know what they’re capable of, and it’s very encouraging to have everybody back in the swing, so to speak.”

Foltynewicz’s statistics weren’t pretty in his rehabilitation starts: He allowed 12 earned runs in 17-2/3 innings, including six earned runs and seven hits in 5-1/3 innings of his final rehab start for Gwinnett. But Foltynewicz reported he felt good physically while throwing 89 pitches (59 strikes) Sunday, and the Braves’ internal reports indicated he threw the ball much better than the stats suggested.

“The (statistical) line wasn’t what the stuff was,” Snitker said. “His stuff was right where it needs to be. Physically, everything is great. He won’t have, really, any limitations (Saturday).”

Last season, Foltynewicz started 31 games for the Braves, compiling a 13-10 record and 2.85 ERA. In 183 innings, he allowed 130 hits and 68 walks and struck out 202 batters.  He battled through elbow soreness at times during the season.

He made the National League All-Star team for the first time last season.

Fried started Friday night’s opener of a three-game series against the Rockies. Gausman is scheduled to start the series finale Sunday afternoon.

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