LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Mike Foltynewicz is not ready to join the group of pitchers who have chosen to pitch strictly from the stretch. The Braves right-hander has at least tinkered with the idea, in the hope of finding the consistency that has eluded him in each of the
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Mike Foltynewicz is not ready to join the group of pitchers who have chosen to pitch strictly from the stretch. The Braves right-hander has at least tinkered with the idea, in the hope of finding the consistency that has eluded him in each of the past three seasons.
Foltynewicz displayed a quieter windup and also showed his willingness to pitch from the stretch with nobody on base during Tuesday afternoon's 3-3 tie with the Pirates at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex. He completed two scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League season debut
"It's just to keep things quiet," Foltynewicz said. "In the past, I had too many unnecessary moving parts."
When Foltynewicz first reported to Braves camp in 2015, he stood as one of the game's top pitching prospects. The struggles he encountered over the months that followed could be blamed on inexperience -- a part of his introduction to the Major League level. His frustrating 2016 season might have been influenced by the limited offeason activity, the result of a blood clot that led to a portion of his right rib being removed.
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Last year Foltynewicz posted a 4.74 ERA over 28 starts, despite allowing three earned runs or fewer and lasting at least five innings in 19 of those outings. Now The 26-year-old hurler is making changes aimed toward finding consistency. He altered his windup midway through last season, but didn't develop this current iteration until this winter, when he stood in front of a mirror and just tried to find something that felt comfortable.
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Foltynewicz's modified windup consists of him placing his right foot against the rubber and generating momentum with a less exaggerated step toward first base with his left foot. In other words, he's essentially mimicking his delivery from the stretch with the addition of the quiet step with his left foot.
"It looked different, that's for sure," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He wasn't the sharpest, but overall I think he was pretty good."
He looked comfortable as he completed a perfect first inning, and he went to the stretch to deliver a 3-0 pitch to Jordan Luplow. Foltynewicz issued consecutive walks to begin the second inning, but escaped unscathed courtesy of a double play and former Brave Todd Cunningham's lazy fly to shallow center for the final out.
"That was a feel thing because ever since we started [going from the stretch], everything has been downhill with a great angle and great everything," Foltynewicz said. "Then, when I go from the windup, that's when everything gets upright, and everything is trying to catch up with my body. Out of the stretch, everything is perfect."
The remainder of the Grapefruit League season will give Foltynewicz a chance to further test his modified windup, and possibly move even closer toward joining Stephen Strasburg, Alex Wood and other starters who have recently decided to pitch exclusively from the stretch.
"[Braves pitching coach Chuck Hernandez] says go with whatever feels good, or whatever feels sexy is his word," Foltynewicz said. "So I'm just going to do whatever feels comfortable."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.