Pittsburgh Pirates: Four Low Cost High Reward Free Agent Targets

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 29: Sean Doolittle #63 of the Washington Nationals prepares to deliver the pitch against the Houston Astros during the ninth inning in Game Six of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 29: Sean Doolittle #63 of the Washington Nationals prepares to deliver the pitch against the Houston Astros during the ninth inning in Game Six of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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Jul 21, 2020; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz (26) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the second inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 21, 2020; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz (26) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the second inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

Mike Foltynewicz

Mike Foltynewicz was one of the starters the Atlanta Braves acquired in their rebuild and it looked like he finally turned a corner in 2018. Through 183 innings of work, Foltynewicz put up a strong 2.85 ERA, 3.37 FIP and 1.08 WHIP. He also had a healthy 27.2% strikeout rate and 0.84 HR/9. While he did have a 9.1% walk rate, he had a solid season overall with ERA estimators also placing him as a well above average pitcher. Folty had a 3.77 xFIP and SIERA while having a 3.14 xERA and 3.44 DRA. Overall, he earned an All-Star Game appearance and finished 8th in National League Cy Young Award voting.

However, the last two seasons have not been kind to the right-hander. In 2019, Folty pitched in an injury limited 117 innings and put up a 4.54 ERA, 4.97 FIP and 1.24 WHIP. Home runs became a massive issue as his HR/9 rose to 1.77. While he did see his walk rate take a step back to 7.5%, his strikeout rate fell to just 21.4%. He also was giving up a lot more hard contact with his hard hit rate going from 34.5% to 39.8%. In 2020, Foltynewiecz pitched just 3.1 innings in one game before being designated for assignment by the Braves. In those 3.1 innings, he surrendered six earned runs on three home runs.

It’s also a bit concerning to see his fastball velocity dip so much. After averaging in the mid-90s with his four seamer and sinker, he was barely able to touch 90 MPH with the two pitches in his brief showing in 2020. If he can regain his velo, he might be a good candidate to breakout in the bullpen.

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