Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Trust in slider has been key to Folty's success

Injury updates on DL-bound McCarthy, Vizcaino
Special to MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- The slider hasn't always been there for Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz. Now it's arguably the key to his breakout season.

"I could never throw it over 86, 85 [mph]," Foltynewicz said. "Then all of a sudden -- I don't know if it was [2016], last year or [2015[ -- I started throwing it a little harder, 88-89. I can throw it harder, now I've got to control it. And I think I can throw the slider for strikes, throw it in a 3-2 count, strike some guys out. It's just having confidence in that pitch."

View Full Game Coverage

ST. LOUIS -- The slider hasn't always been there for Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz. Now it's arguably the key to his breakout season.

"I could never throw it over 86, 85 [mph]," Foltynewicz said. "Then all of a sudden -- I don't know if it was [2016], last year or [2015[ -- I started throwing it a little harder, 88-89. I can throw it harder, now I've got to control it. And I think I can throw the slider for strikes, throw it in a 3-2 count, strike some guys out. It's just having confidence in that pitch."

View Full Game Coverage

The 26-year-old right-hander says it's his most improved pitch, and the results are showing.

Foltynewicz has a 5-4 record with a 2.14 ERA, the third lowest in the National League. Opponents are batting just .191 against him, the second-lowest mark among qualified NL pitchers behind only Washington's Max Scherzer (.172), and his 98 strikeouts also put him among the NL leaders.

While the slider might be his most improved pitch, a greater confidence in his changeup has also helped.

"Being able to throw that in games, especially when there are so many lefties in today's game and they have everything coming into them, it's also good to have a changeup running away from them," said Foltynewicz. "I feel comfortable throwing that to righties, too."

Video: NYM@ATL: Foltynewicz tosses 5 scoreless, exits early

In his fifth big league season, Foltynewicz is showing the ability to focus in tight situations and make pitches, instead of relying on his mid-to-high-90s fastball.

"In certain situations, I'm settling down," Foltynewicz said. "I'm focusing on pitch by pitch instead of who's on deck or who's going to come up in three batters or something like that or worrying about a situation that hasn't come up yet."

The Braves' success as a team also helps. Atlanta entered Friday night's game vs. the Cardinals on top of the NL East with a 45-34 record, seven games ahead of where Atlanta stood at the same point in 2017.

"We're coming in, we're all relaxed, but at the same time guys are getting their work in," Foltynewicz said. "There's no messing around, but we're having fun with it. We've got a great group of guys."

McCarthy hopes DL stint is a short one

Right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday due to right knee tendinitis, is confident he will miss only a start or two before returning.

McCarthy left Sunday's game after injuring his knee while batting. He earned the win in the Braves' 7-3 victory over Baltimore, giving up three runs in five innings.

"Let's see if we can manage it and get it to a place that I feel comfortable with moving forward," McCarthy said. "The training staff here is great, and it's just up to me to do what they tell me to do."

Video: BAL@ATL: McCarthy strikes out Jones in the 5th

Braves manager Brian Snitker is also hopeful the DL stint will be short and said the training staff will take McCarthy's progress day by day.

"It's like all those guys, you don't want them looking for a spot where things don't hurt because if they do that, they'll end up hurting something else," said Snitker. "If it's enough to bother him, especially the legs, it's a big deal, and we'll just try to get him right again."

Vizcaino nearing return

Right-hander Arodys Vizcaino (right shoulder inflammation) threw from flat ground at 120 feet Friday. He will throw a bullpen session Saturday and will be re-evaluated then.

Joe Harris is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Louis.

Atlanta Braves, Mike Foltynewicz, Brandon McCarthy