DENVER -- As July neared its end, Mike Foltynewicz appeared to be legitimizing his status as a frontline starter and creating confidence in his ability to anchor the Braves' rotation over the next few seasons. But he has since provided the reminder he's far from a finished product and still
DENVER -- As July neared its end, Mike Foltynewicz appeared to be legitimizing his status as a frontline starter and creating confidence in his ability to anchor the Braves' rotation over the next few seasons. But he has since provided the reminder he's far from a finished product and still quite susceptible to the struggles he's encountered in the past couple of weeks.
Foltynewicz's recent frustration was extended Wednesday night as he was damaged early and often during a 17-2 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field. The Braves' right-hander matched a career high by allowing eight earned runs over just 3 1/3 innings. This marked the third time in four starts he exited before the start of the fifth inning.
"He's still a work in progress and it's a new challenge now because he's been going really good and now it's not quite so good," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He's going to have to get where he was prior. It's a constant learning experience and you never have this thing figured out."
After Foltynewicz made his early exit, the Rockies tallied six runs in one inning against Luke Jackson and finished with their second-highest run total against the Braves in Coors Field history. The highest total (20) came on June 12, 1996, when Greg Maddux allowed seven earned runs over 3 1/3 innings.
Given that Coors Field has occasionally gotten the best of legends such as Maddux, one could choose to give Foltynewicz a pass. But there is certainly reason for the Braves to be concerned about the most talented member of their rotation allowing at least five runs in three of his past four starts after allowing five in just three of the 19 starts that preceded this stretch.
"Over the last seven innings, I haven't put a zero up on the board," Foltynewicz said. "It's just been a tough stretch here. It's nothing to worry about. I know I bounce back and I know how good I am."
Currently progressing through his first full Major League season, Foltynewicz seemed to be headed in the right direction when he exited his July 25 start with a 2.96 ERA over the previous seven outings. When he allowed five runs over four innings in Philadelphia on July 25 and then recorded a career-best 11 strikeouts in an impressive win against the Marlins six days later, there wasn't reason for concern.
But Foltynewicz allowed the Cardinals to score six in 2 2/3 innings on Friday, then struggled again Wednesday. Seven of the nine hits he allowed to the Rockies were recorded with two outs. Like in recent starts in Philadelphia and St. Louis, he simply couldn't find a feel for his slider or curveball. Consequently, Foltynewicz once again was unable to consistently put hitters away like he has most of the season.
"It's the dog days and we're all kind of fumed, but that's when you've got to really dig deep and finish the season strong," he said. "I'm not too worried about it. It's something I'm going to have to work on and dig a little deeper to find out what's going wrong and fix it."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.