Pittsburgh Pirates Should Take A Flyer On Mike Foltynewicz
By Marty Foster
Should the Pittsburgh Pirates take a chance on a former all-star starting pitcher recently DFA’d by the Atlanta Braves?
After a disappointing 2019 and a rocky start to his 2020 season, the Atlanta Braves quickly parted ways from right-handed starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz by designating him for assignment after Monday night’s blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. Foltynewicz could be worth The Pittsburgh Pirates taking a flier on.
“Folty” has been spiraling downward since his breakout 2018 season which saw him earn his first and only all-star selection, registering an impressive 2.85 ERA with 202 strikeouts over 183 innings of work (31 games started). Leading the charge for the Braves 90-win season, and playoff push, Foltynewicz also finished 8th in NL Cy Young voting.
Since then it’s been all downhill, so what happened? Why can’t he regain that dominant form he had in 2018? Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker commented about Folty after he was DFA’d saying “the stuff hasn’t been there”, and well, he’s right. Mike Foltynewicz went from his fastball touching 98 MPH in 2018 to Monday night’s game where he touched 92 MPH at his peak.
What’s to blame for this drop in velocity if health isn’t the reason? Could be his pitching mechanics, could it be the weight that he shedded over the offseason? Is it something the Pittsburgh Pirates could fix? Who’s to know.
If Foltynewicz is a struggling pitcher why should the Pittsburgh Pirates take a chance on him? Well, it’s no secret that the team is currently rebuilding or “retooling” however you want to put it, these are the types of moves you make while doing so.
Getting Foltynewicz from Atlanta would give the team and new pitching coach Oscar Marin a project to work with and potentially get Folty back to his dominant form and give the team a trade chip to use in the offseason.
The veteran is still only 28 years-old and definitely has more left in the tank in my opinion. Last season he did struggle, but after the all-star break he was showing glimpses of his former self, starting 10 games for the Braves, pitching to a very good 2.85 ERA and he stopped giving up the long ball like he was early in the season. Even if the team can’t get him to start, I don’t think moving him to the bullpen is a bad idea either, he didn’t have any problems with Tampa first time through the lineup last night and the pen might work out really well for him. Worst case, it doesn’t work out here and you don’t lose much.
While I do think that trading for Foltynewicz or simply claiming him would be a great move for the Bucs, I also understand that by acquiring him you would have to adjust the rotation and it may not be beneficial to the team’s future. However, I could see Folty joining Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault in a “piggyback” role where he starts and goes through the lineup once or twice and is replaced by one of the other two guys.
Just food for thought, but all in all adding Mike Foltynewicz would be a low-risk move that could end up paying off for the Pittsburgh Pirates. There will be a line of suitors calling the Braves on him, and the Pirates should be one of them.