All-Star Game 2018: Braves' Mike Foltynewicz locks in with maturity, rides it to first-time appearance
Folty is one of many first-time All-Stars in D.C.
WASHINGTON -- Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz always had the talent. Just watching him pitch, you could just feel that there was something lurking underneath the sturdy, 6-foot-4 frame. He could light up the radar gun and had some offspeed offerings that led one to believe he'd be a frontline starter one day.
It's just that in this day and age, we want everything right away. Further, baseball players have been hitting the bigs without missing a beat so often in recent years, it feels to some like every player who isn't a star by age 25 is a bust.
Through Foltynewicz's age-25 season, he had appeared in 85 games. He had a 4.87 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in 382 2/3 innings. That's not a small sample and it all came over the course of four years.
At this point, uncertainty starts to creep in. Will it ever come together for him?
It has now. Foltynewicz is an All-Star, due to a 2.66 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, among other things. So what happened?
"Just going out there, trying to throw hard as you can," he said. "It's been really tough for me to harness that because that's what I've been pitching at my whole life, is going out there throwing 100 -- just trying to throw 100 at least. Just slowing the game down and then, like you said, just, you don't have to throw 100 every time; going out there and spotting at 94, 95; learn how to pitch in and out, up and down; using my offspeed off the bat, really. It's taken a couple of years in the big leagues just to kind of see how you're supposed to pitch and read swings and go read video, and it's just a lot of things that kinda go into it instead of just going out there and trying to throw 100 every time, because -- trust me -- they can time that up and they can put it over the fence and do what they need to do with it. So it's just been a really fun year, I'm kinda slowing things down a little bit. And then my son was born this past year, so it's been a big step for me as well."
The son part seems important, too, because all of this seems like it leads to maturity. He's realizing he should pitch instead of just throw it as hard as he can. He's trying to hone his game and become a more professional pitcher instead of just a fireballer.
Funny thing about that, too, is that he's rocking a career-high strikeout rate (120 in 101 2/3 innings, good for 10.6 K/9). Also, he hasn't lost velocity and is throwing the fastball more often than he did last season. He's more about location and cutting out the overthrowing that young pitchers tend to do. Location, location, location. It's working. Foltynewicz is a frontline starter at his first All-Star Game. We just needed to be patient and let him grow a little.
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