ATLANTA -- As the Braves near the end of the Bud Norris experiment, it looks like Mike Foltynewicz will get another opportunity to prove that he can live up to the tremendous hype that surrounded him at this time last year, when he stood as Atlanta's top pitching prospect.An official
ATLANTA -- As the Braves near the end of the Bud Norris experiment, it looks like Mike Foltynewicz will get another opportunity to prove that he can live up to the tremendous hype that surrounded him at this time last year, when he stood as Atlanta's top pitching prospect.
An official announcement has not been made, but it appears Foltynewicz could start in place of Norris on Monday, when the Braves open a three-game series against the Mets at Citi Field. Two clear clues of this plan were provided on Friday, when Norris was available to work out of Atlanta's bullpen and Foltynewicz was scratched from his scheduled start for Triple-A Gwinnett.
When the Braves signed Norris to a one-year, $2.5 million deal in December, they hoped he would eat innings for at least a couple of months until it was time to create rotation spots for the likes of Foltynewicz and top prospects Tyrell Jenkins and Aaron Blair, who made his Major League debut last weekend. But it now looks like the life span of this experiment might prove to be closer to a month.
Instead of bouncing back from the disappointment he experienced last year before he was released by the Orioles, Norris has continued to struggle, posting a 8.74 ERA over his first five starts of the season. The 31-year-old right-hander surrendered seven hits and issued two walks while allowing six earned runs in just 1 2/3 innings against the Red Sox on Tuesday. He has allowed five home runs, including two grand slams, within his past 5 1/3 innings.
While there is a chance the Braves could opt to start Jenkins on Monday, it appears they will go with Foltynewicz on three extra days of rest. Foltynewicz enhanced his candidacy for a promotion when he limited Columbus to one unearned run over seven innings on Sunday.
Foltynewicz has posted a 2.05 ERA through his first four starts for Gwinnett, but he has issued at least four walks in three of those four outings. The hard-throwing right-hander took his lumps last year as he produced a 5.68 ERA within the 15 starts he made for Atlanta before being shut down in September because of a blood clot that influenced his offseason preparations.
It appears Foltynewicz has regained the stamina and strength that he lost while recovering from the blood clot. His fastball was routinely clocked in the upper 90s throughout Spring Training and he has recorded 19 strikeouts over his past 18 innings with Gwinnett.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.