MIAMI -- Mike Foltynewicz hasn't quite reached that point in his career where he is immune to growing pains. But during the early portion of this season, the Braves' hurler has shown he has matured to the point where he can better deal with adversity and follow a bad start
MIAMI -- Mike Foltynewicz hasn't quite reached that point in his career where he is immune to growing pains. But during the early portion of this season, the Braves' hurler has shown he has matured to the point where he can better deal with adversity and follow a bad start with a gem, similar to the one he constructed during Friday night's 8-4 win over the Marlins at Marlins Park.
"I think it's gotten to the point where he can make some adjustments inning-to-inning," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said. "He's definitely understanding himself a lot more. You've got to have some failure to learn and cement some things that are important and get rid of things that aren't helping you."
Coming off a start where the Cardinals pelted him for seven runs in just four innings, Foltynewicz proved he's not the same guy who allowed struggles to linger like he did on the way to posting a 4.31 ERA over 22 starts last year. The 25-year-old hurler showed better arm strength, got ahead of hitters more consistently and remained composed as he limited the Marlins to just one run over six innings.
"We needed somebody to take us for a ride, and he did," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He asked me before the game what I expected, and that's what I expected. I thought he'd bounce back, and he did. It might be his best game yet."
Foltynewicz wasn't necessarily as authoritatively dominant as he'd been during last year's 10-strikeout outing against the White Sox or the strong seven-inning start he had a couple weeks ago in Philadelphia. But he was consistently good over the course of this outing, which could have turned in the wrong direction when he momentarily got out of whack and began ending his delivery off-balance in the third inning.
After the Marlins put two on with one out, Foltynewicz composed himself and used an array of fastballs, changeups, curveballs and sliders to end the threat with consecutive strikeouts of Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton. Ozuna chased a 2-2 slider up out of the zone, and Stanton whiffed at a 1-2 curveball that dropped out of the zone.
"After I got out of that second and third inning, I knew I just needed those two runs and I'd get out of there all right," Foltynewicz said. "We did that. The ball was coming out good. It was warmer here than anywhere we've played. I got loose in like five minutes. I think the ball was coming out a little better."
While pitching in unseasonably chilly conditions against the Cardinals last week in Atlanta, Foltynewicz struggled with his command and consequently produced a 92.4-mph average on his four-seam fastball. He touched 98.4 mph with his four-seamer during the first inning of this outing against the Marlins and dialed up a 96-mph heater during his sixth and final inning.
Foltynewicz has now allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his four starts in which he has completed at least six innings. This latest effort garnered his first win of the season and, more importantly, served as further indication this year could evolve much differently for the matured hurler.
"It's all steps in a positive direction for him," Snitker said. "This will be a good game for him to build on for the future. It should boost his confidence."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.