Starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz could not find his groove on the mound.
He made his second start of this season Thursday in the Braves' final game of their four-game series against the Padres at SunTrust Park, in which the Braves lost, 11-2. He pitched 4-2/3 innings, allowing eight hits and six runs, with one home run, and striking out three. He threw 82 pitches, 57 for strikes.
Manager Brian Snitker said he thought Foltynewicz felt healthy and that his struggles on the mound could be more mechanical than anything else.
“I don’t know if his delivery was getting out of whack, slider didn’t have the bite on it that it normally does,” Snitker said. “So it might be something that they can correct on a side session.”
Foltynewicz missed the Braves’ first 25 games this season. He was placed on the injured list March 28 with a right elbow bone spur. He made four rehabilitation starts with Triple-A Gwinnett, and was 1-1 with a 6.11 ERA. He was activated off the 10-day injury list Saturday, when he made his first start of the season.
Now back from injury, he has allowed nine runs and 14 hits over his two starts.
The top of the fifth saw the Braves’ defense break down, and Foltynewicz was in that mix. He fielded a hit from Padres’ Manny Machado, but a throwing error allowed Ian Kinsler to run it into home. It was also the inning the Padres scored five of their 11 runs.
Foltynewicz said his slider was one of his pitches he struggled on during the game. It was the type of pitch he hurt himself on during the spring, and a pitch that has taken him some time to master.
"Last year was my really good year with it, and maybe guys are sitting on it or looking for it, but it’s just not really getting that bite either,” Foltynewicz said. “I’m still trusting everything, it’s just not getting movement like I want it to.”
Catcher Tyler Flowers recognized that Foltynewicz did not have a great feel for his slider, and his command of the pitch wasn’t completely there. He also saw strong fastball command through a few innings, but that started to fade toward the end.
Flowers said he didn’t think Foltynewicz was backing off his fastball, but was trying to adjust to make his pitches.
“Not a whole lot of ammunition, typical Folty ammo to work with,” Flowers said. “Combine that with aggressive guys, and not great command, a little tough to navigate.”
Foltynewicz said he wasn’t worried about getting his slider back, though. It took him about 3-4 years to get the pitch to where he had it last year. He knows he has to keep working on the pitch for it to return to where it was.
“Sometimes during the season you lose a pitch here and there, but it’s going to come back,” Foltynewicz said. "We’re professional athletes so we know what we’ve got to do to make adjustments, so I’ll find it out quick.”
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