Braves pick Foltynewicz for NLDS opener

October 2nd, 2018

ATLANTA -- Mike Foltynewicz stood as the great unknown, who occasionally displayed limitless potential, as the Braves spent the past three seasons going through a massive rebuild. But everything changed this year for him and this team that confidently enters the postseason with what appears to be a possible ace.

Atlanta manager Brian Snitker did not surprise anyone when he announced Foltynewicz will start Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers on Thursday. Los Angeles will counter with .

NLDS presented by Doosan, Game 1: Tonight, 8:37 p.m. ET on MLB Network

"We've wanted Folty to be The Guy for a couple years, and right now, I think he's establishing himself as our legit first guy," Snitker said. "It wasn't a hard decision at all."

While it might have been easy to give the ball to Foltynewicz for Game 1, the Braves are still discussing their other rotation plans for this best-of-five series. There's a good chance and will get at least one start. But it remains to be seen whether or will get a start if a four-man rotation is used.

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Snitker indicated Newcomb might be a good matchup against the Dodgers. The young southpaw came within a strike of no-hitting them on July 29. But that was before the addition of Manny Machado and return of a healthy transformed Los Angeles from one of the game's least productive offensive teams against left-handers into one of its most productive.

Snitker also indicated that if Atlanta is facing possible elimination in Game 4, there is a chance Foltynewicz could be brought back on short rest.

"It might be a little matchup oriented as to which way we go," Snitker said.

Uncertainty surrounded Foltynewicz when he arrived at Spring Training this year, looking to prove he was not the same guy who had produced a 4.81 ERA over 65 combined starts in the past three years. He modified his windup to eliminate some moving parts and proved he was indeed mentally strong enough to control his emotions better than he had in the past.

Foltynewicz earned his first All-Star selection in July and finished the regular season tied for the NL's fifth-best ERA. An improved slider and changeup helped him tally a career-best 202 strikeouts and become just the sixth pitcher of the Atlanta era (since 1966) to reach this mark. Foltynewicz tuned up for this first career postseason start by producing a 2.55 ERA over his final 11 regular-season starts.

"The stuff has always been there," Snitker said. "I think he's refined it and improved his command. He's just becoming the pitcher we all envision him being."