Is The Braves’ Mike Foltynewicz A 2018 Post-Hype Sleeper? Not So Much…

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Braves’ Mike Foltynewicz was one of the more hyped pitchers entering 2017.  He was supposed to be a high strikeout, breakout candidate available late in your drafts but at the end of the year the results didn’t back it up:

154.0 IP
10 Wins
4.79 ERA
1.48 WHIP
143 Strikeouts (8.36 K/9)
59 Walks (3.45 BB/9)
39.4% Groundball Rate
.324 BABIP

The numbers aren’t terrible, as both the strikeouts and control were at least “decent”.  That doesn’t mean that they were good or numbers that we’d go out of our way to acquire, but they continue to show the upside that was seen heading into last season.  Unfortunately there were two key stats creating far too big of a concern moving forward:

 

Home Runs
Right off the bat you know that the groundball rate, which fell from 2016 (41.2%), represents a risk of home run issues.  The problem for Foltynewicz was not only that the problem presented itself, but in the way that it did (HR/FB):

  • Home – 0.79
  • Road – 1.47

Atlanta’s new home ballpark quickly became notorious for home run issues with Julio Teheran being the poster boy.  The fact that Foltynewicz had bigger issues away from Atlanta represents a risk, because given the groundball rate it’s far more likely that the home runs rise at home as opposed to falling on the road.

 

Line Drive Rate
Last season he yielded a 24.4% line drive rate, which helps to support the elevated BABIP and strand rate (72.4%), and the number was consistent all year (24.4% in the first half, 24.5% in the second).  Maybe he can improve a little bit, but after posting a 21.4% line drive rate in 2016, and the owner of a 23.0% career mark, how can we expect it?

 

Those two things alone would give concerns about dubbing him a post hype breakout.  However you couple them with the slew of young starters who are on the horizon and can take his spot at a moment’s notice and a regression in his SwStr% (9.4%) and O-Swing% (27.2%) and the potential risk far outweighs the reward.  The cost isn’t going to be great, but you are going to be able to find someone with far more upside at the same cost.  Move on to the next “breakout” play.

Source – Fangraphs

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Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catchers03/14/1802/02/18
First Basemen01/08/1802/09/18
Second Basemen01/15/1802/13/18
Shortstops03/21/1802/27/18
Third Basemen03/09/1803/06/18
Outfielders1-20: 03/18/18

21-40: 03/19/18
1-20: 03/12/18

21-40:
Starting Pitchers1-20: 03/24/18

21-40: 03/24/18
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Relief Pitchers02/12/18--

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