Braves 13, Gnats 9 – What’s Happened to Folty?

Wow, so much to talk about. First off, the Braves’ offense successfully recovered from what was one of the lowest Game Scores of the season from its starting pitcher. When your SP gives up 8 ER in 4 innings (even if two of them were Grybo’ed), you expect to lose. But the reason the Gnats are 7 games back is because their pitching is not very good either.

After the 3rd inning, you might have said, “Sheesh, I wish the Braves had brought Anibal Sanchez back. Look at how well he’s doing compared to our guy.” But then the Braves get to him a little in the 4th and 5th, and after he gets through 6, then the Braves get into the pen. This is how those next two innings went: Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Double. Out. Out. Out. Single. Single. Double. Out. Home run. Walk. Single. Out.

The pen was ok. Blevins pitched a full inning, but he gave up two singles which became two Grybo’s. Grant Dayton pitched a scoreless inning, and he looked good. Minter gave up a single and a walk, and allowed a runner to score on a wild pitch. Anthony Swarzak struck out the side (1 ER in 14.2 IP as a Brave). Luke Jackson walked 2 guys on, IIRC, 8 straight balls. But an oopsy swing by Kurt Suzuki led to a game-ending double play.

But Mike Foltynewicz is the story of this game. In 59.1 IP, which is plenty of a sample, he’s given up 42 ER, including 16 HR. His K’s have dropped, his walks and hits have increased. It just ain’t working. Here is some excellent analysis in tweet form:

So the simple analysis on this is that his slider is not moving, and it’s also ending up in the meaty part of the plate. Whether it’s injury or ineffectiveness, it’s something he needs to work through in the minors. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen, as the Braves will option him to AAA.

Bryse Wilson is a logical candidate to replace him. He’s been pitching well, and it would be his spot in the rotation coming up. Kolby Allard has had a really good stretch, and at some point, he will have a claim to a spot somewhere on the roster. Kyle Wright has not pitched well, and he probably should get some uninterrupted time in AAA. They could, though not likely, even leapfrog AAA and call up Ian Anderson from AA as he’s been pitching very well, and is probably due to a promotion to AAA.

Still, when you avoid losing a game you really should have lost because you have the deepest offense in baseball, well, that’s real nice.

86 thoughts on “Braves 13, Gnats 9 – What’s Happened to Folty?”

  1. Sobotka is back up. Presumably he is for today only as Newcomb is about ready to be activated from the IL.

  2. Nice, Rob. Thank you.

    I have hopes for Folty. His failure this year is not for lack of effort or desire but of execution. Mechanical and emotional rehab in a less stressful environment may be just what is needed.

    Mike may just suffer from the Pip Syndrome. Great expectations, his own and those of others, must be a burden. He will never be a Scherzer or Verlander. Few will, but being the best Mike he can be will be quite enough. I pray he makes it.

    Meanwhile, Sobotka returns. Hooray!

  3. bye bye Trevor
    better late than never
    with back to back to back
    you became the focal point of our attack.

  4. I would think that Folty will right the ship and, at minimum, not be a 6 ERA pitcher going forward. I would think that he can get back to at least close to what he was before all of this. How long that will take (if indeed injured) is anyone’s guess.

    But going forward, what was keeping him from being the elite pitchers you mention is his control. He struck out 202 in 183 IP last year. That’s elite. He allowed 6.4 H/9. That’s pretty close to elite. 0.8 HR/9. Elite. But the 3.3 BB/9 is what keeps him from the upper echelon. And I can’t help but wonder if his nutrition is what is keeping him back. He’s had bouts with dehydration. He will look visibly anguished on the mound. He’ll lose his mechanics for stretches.

    Notable heights and weights of elite pitchers and Folty:
    -Verlander:6’5″, 225
    -Scherzer:6’3″, 215
    -Thor:6’6″, 240
    -Snell: 6’4″, 215
    -Soroka: 6’5″, 225 (though not elite yet, his body absolutely fits the mold)
    -Folty: 6’4″, 200

    There are certainly some thin pitchers. Sale is 6’6″, 180. deGrom is 6’4, 185. But Folty, dude, put on some weight. The difference between Folty and Scherzer is 15 pounds and the last inning of the game. Scherzer gets to 200-220 IP, Folty can only get to 180. And this could also be playing into Folty’s struggles at the present moment.

    I also like cheering for players who are a little crazy, so Folty will always get additional chances in my book.

  5. So you have Soroka going today with a 9-man pen. Guys will probably get some rest.

    Those seemingly available today:

    RHP-Swarzak, Webb, Touki, Jackson, Sobotka, Tomlin
    LHP-Minter, Blevins, Dayton (though he probably won’t get the call two days in a row)

    Newcomb’s absence from the left side of the pen is notable.

  6. Bullpen update:

    Last 30 days, the bullpen ERA is 2.97 ERA, best in baseball ahead of the Reds’ 3.26 ERA. With the flux of the pen, for a while you had to find the right stretch of games that showed that your eyes weren’t lying and the pen had gotten better. Now you can take a long, non-specific sample like the last 30 days, and it confirms that the pen has been deadly.

    And give it to AA. Vizzy was making about 35% of what we were paying our pen, and he switched that out with Swarzak, so now we’re actually getting some good financial return on our bullpen dollars.

    If you can get good performance from Gausman in the bullpen, then you can almost very quickly look at Gausman as a slightly-overpaid 28-year old making $9M on a one year deal and performing as a quality reliever. If we had signed a 28-year old on a one year deal for $9M to be a really good reliever, people would have been happy.

  7. @10 of course it is. I love Cakes, but we don’t need a repeat of last year when he fell off the table half way through the season. Plus we really need to get Johan some ab’s so he can get into a groove. With JD swinging it well and Dansby and Ozzie continuing to do their thing, it’s tough to get him time on the infield and Cakes is the logical place, especially with his apparent need to rest. I wonder if Snit isn’t comfortable with Johan’s D out in right?

  8. I’m by no means an expert on this stuff, but looking through the data available on some great websites (seriously, what a cool time to be a fan) some things do pop out in addition to the slider movement and location graphs above.

    1. Folty’s use of his 2-seamer and slider are on the rise. This while the rest of data-driven organizations seem to have their power pitchers moving away from that pitch mix. Houston is the obvious example here. Would Folty work better using the 4-seam & curve more often?

    2. Folty’s spin rate on his pitches is below league average. Excepting the curve, his spin rates on his 4 other pitches are down from last season. Perhaps this is what is making so many of his pitches so hittable? 97mph don’t mean much anymore if it’s grooved and straight.

    3. The percentage of his pitches that he gets hitters to chase on out of the strike zone hovers in the mid-20’s. For reference, elite guys like Scherzer and deGrom get chase rates in the mid-30’s. Heck, Annibal Sanchez is getting hitters to chase at balls more often than Folty. This jives with the eye test too, as in my opinion hitters have never seemed to struggle to differentiate Folty’s pitches.

    Long story short, he needs to development in both stuff and command.

  9. @13 It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that this is all information that pitchers are given throughout the early part of their careers, they make adjustments, and we don’t really ever hear about it. But Folty has a 10 cent head and won’t make adjustments. I love him, but he definitely gets in his own way, and this could be no different.

  10. @4 I don’t buy the weight gain argument. Lefty Grove was skinny. Ewell Blackwell. That’s off the top of my head. There are plenty of rail thin pitchers who were truly great one could cite.

    But getting dehydrated. Jesus. It is true that he needs to take better care of himself. And he is crazy.

  11. @14 – Don’t think we should disparage a man’s ‘head’ because he lets his emotions show more than most. I’m imagining having a shitty day at my job in front of 40,000 people. Can’t day I’d do much better.

    What I have no trouble surmising is the following:
    1. Folty has never had elite repeatability in mechanics or command of pitches. Pure stuff and a big arm got him to the majors though, which ain’t nothing.

    2. 2018 was a step forward in mechanics and command. However, as many people noted at the time, his shiny ERA covered up some issues that remained.

    3. The spring injury could easily have affected his mechanics and stuff. It would appear for the worse.

    4.Mechanics and pitch command can be tough to rehab on the fly. Lots of guys spend entire offseasons refining a single pitch. I’m on board with sending him to the minors until it is figured out.

  12. Not liking the fact that we swung at the first 6 pitches this dude threw. Make him work a little bit anyway

  13. So this game takes an unfortunate turn but I guess I would rather see Tomlin than Touki… I cant believe I said that

  14. I don’t understand why we aren’t making Voth throw pitches with how bad their pen is. Way to go JD

  15. Anyone else raise an eyebrow after Frenchy just recounted how when he got sent down to the minors he was perfectly cool with it and knew that he wasn’t playing well enough to stay in the majors and had things to work on? I seem to remember him raising a big stink when he was sent down, a totally different scenario than he just described on the broadcast.

  16. I’ve been away from all communication and just looked at the Mlb app. I’m panicking—someone please reassure me about Soroka.

  17. Tomlin’s doing a job. Well done, Josh.

    When our guys do throw strikes, the games are easier to watch.

  18. @ #30

    Perhaps that was true when he was with the Braves. He mentioned El Paso, so that would have been toward the end of his career, when he was with the Padres. Sounds like he learned something along the way.

  19. @34 he does seem much more humble now than I remembered when he was with the Braves the first time.

  20. To be fair, Frenchy said 2014, so he wasn’t referring to his July 4 demotion to Mississippi in favor of Braves Great Jason Perry.

  21. I wish, I wish with all my heart for Chip to get laryngitis. It would be a more enjoyable broadcast were he struck mute.

  22. The Soto HR notwithstanding, Dayton has struck out 4 of his last 6 hitters. If he is getting to be reliable that will be huge.

  23. Sure am glad we took Tomlin out…he was only at 43 pitches. Over managing yet again

  24. damnit, damnit, damnit. just need one freaking out.

    Did anyone think two runs would be enough to win this game??? It took us 12 runs to get one win out of four from the gNats.

  25. The Braves are not allowed to win without late inning drama. I believe it’s a law.

  26. Leaving Tomlin and his low pitch count in thr 7th was the move to make (or not make)

  27. Just looked at the replay of the Soroka HBP. Voth made a nice gesture apologizing after the inning was over. That was nice to see.

  28. The quick swings and unwillingness to make Nats pitchers work today are particularly maddening.

  29. Ridiculous defensive positioning on a guy that showed bunt 1st pitch. Epic fail on the whole Braves coaching staff.

  30. Now, finally, seeing some great defense by the infield all around to get out of that mess.

  31. Better get bunches and bunches of runs, because Sobotka is warming up. “Sobotka Space” is “Luke Leeway” to the third power.

  32. Jackson can be such a bonehead with the slider. Just throw the fastball… if he hits a solo shot, whatever

  33. I swear if Luke blows this, I don’t want to see any apologists talking about his bad luck and how good he’s been.

  34. The shift sucks, but every one of Luke Jackson’s appearances is a cry for help.

  35. What is the cushion we need to feel comfortable with a lead for Jackson? Is it Luke Latitude? Back to Snitker and pulling Tomlin, I think he is hoping to get an inning or two again from Tomlin in 2 or 3 days. I don’t think he had any plans of pitching him more than 4 innings.

  36. There’s your moment for the “bad-luck” apologists. When your WHIP is over 1.50 since May 21 and you can’t find a clean inning with a flashlight and a compass, sorry, but it’s not luck.

    And he escapes. But if he’s closing six weeks from now, AA has failed.

  37. Pass the nitroglycerin. My angina’s barking. Exciting baseball takes a toll, but, hey, …

    Braves win! Braves win!

  38. Over the long run it is infinitely better to be good than lucky.

    “Luck is the residue of preparation”.

  39. We are facing a lefty tomorrow. Here’s hoping that Culby or Camargo starts for Neck.

  40. I know that “big” wins at this time of year are usually exaggerated. However, both teams come into the series hot and we’re on the road. We could have easily lost either of the last 2 games, especially with a faulty Folty and Soroka getting hit. Of course with the Phailing Phillies, it still looks like a battle between the Mets and the Nats for 2nd in the division.

  41. Though barely managing to resemble a professonal team, and despite wing managed by a brain dead idiot who is best suited to greet retirees at Walmart, and in spite of an ownership that pays penny on the dollar while the rest of the division pays real major leaguers top salaries, the Braves managed to scrape past the Nationals today. Their smoke and mirrors, talentless, penny pinching foolishness act notwithstanding, they manage to scrape by the fingernails to a near impossibly thin 8.5 game lead over the vaunted DC squad. The monsters of the Philadelphia order are even closer at 6.5 back. A gap that could be even more impossibly close we’re it not for their loss to the hard charging Marlins who have closed the gap between this sorry bunch of nobodies and last place to a mere 15 games…

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