Texas Rangers right-hander Mike Foltynewicz had a rough day at the park on Thursday afternoon. In just four innings of work against the Detroit Tigers, he allowed six runs (five earned) on five hits and two walks. Foltynewicz yielded three home runs before departing, and in the process of doing so he moved into an undesirable statistical position.
Foltynewicz entered Thursday having allowed a major-league 28 home runs in his first 102 innings this season. That worked out to 2.47 home runs per nine frames, or the third-highest rate (minimum 100 innings) since the last round of expansion in 1998. With Thursday's three additional home runs, his per-nine rate is now up to 2.63 … or, the highest in that same period of time. Previously, the indignity had belonged to Drew Smyly, who gave up 2.53 per nine in 2019.
What's more is that Foltynewicz's home-run rate is now the second-highest ever among pitchers with at least 100 innings thrown. The only pitcher to outdo him was Ken Dixon, who allowed 2.66 homers per nine with the Orioles back in 1987.
It should be noted there's no promise that Foltynewicz, 29, will continue to give up home runs at a high enough rate to finish the season as the most gopherball-prone pitcher of the last 23 seasons -- or, perhaps, ever.
Conversely, there's no guarantee Foltynewicz, an All-Star with the Braves in 2018, will remain on the Rangers roster for the duration of the year. Even before Thursday's start, he had accumulated a 5.91 ERA (76 ERA+) in 19 starts. July has been a particularly rough month for him, and his latest appearance runs his monthly totals to 23 runs, 12 home runs, and 19 innings. (In fairness, 10 of those runs and four of those home runs came in his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays.)
The Rangers don't have much to play for other than draft-pick positioning -- they entered the day with a 35-61 record on the season, the third-worst in the majors -- but, at some point between now and the end of the season, they could opt to give a younger pitcher a look.