To Start or Relieve; What do Astros do with Michael Foltynewicz
By Eric Huysman
Think back to the old beliefs of pitching. Remember the days where up and coming Astros pitchers such as Shane Reynolds, Daryl Kile, and Roy Oswalt started their career in the bullpen? It was a way for them to get used to playing in the big leagues without the pressure of them starting a game. The old adage is getting their feet wet in the bullpen. With that being said, Michael Foltynewicz did get his feet wet last year pitching out of the bullpen. Some days he would blow hitters away, and other days he would get hit around. Below is a table showing Foltynewicz’s minor league stats as starter and major league stats as bullpen member.
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The case for starting While the stats above are mostly in the minor league rotation, he did occasionally pitch out of the bullpen. This was due to the Astros tandem system they used due to the large amount of pitching prospects in the minors. These stats show he did have more success over a larger sample size as a starter. He had a sub 4.00 ERA over his minor league career.
In an article by Rob Oesterle with Foltynewicz was interviewed. “When the season was over, they thanked me for doing what was best for the team and coming out of the bullpen, even though I hadn’t even done it before,” Foltynewicz said. “But, they also told me that when spring training comes around, I will be fighting for the fourth or fifth spot in the starting rotation. Our pitching coach has given me a ton of stuff to work on.” His stats say that he does have a bit of a wildness issue, with 3.4 (majors) and 3.9 (minors) walks per nine innings ratio.
While that is not a big issue as a starter, in the bullpen where you are in charge of getting 3 outs with the game on the line, walks will get you in the doghouse quickly. As long as he spreads out the walks over multiple innings, he should be more successful. Also, he has already made a name for himself for throwing heat out of the bullpen.
According to Rob Oesterle, Foltynewicz was quoted as saying “So now, I know that I don’t have to throw 95 or 100 every time to get somebody out. But, it’s nice to know I have that ability when I need it.”
“So now, I know that I don’t have to throw 95 or 100 every time to get somebody out. But, it’s nice to know I have that ability when I need it.”-Michael Foltynewicz(via Oesterle)
Case for the bullpen
Folty brings heat, but he probably doesn’t have the control to be an elite closer. His power arm, if he can control the gopher balls and the bases on balls, should translate into a good closer. Without having to stretch himself out, he can sling the ball with the best of them.
"Per BP: Folty 5th in ML among RP for 4seam FB velo (min 100 thrown) at 98.31. Next 3 on Astros: Farnsworth (gone) Bass (off 40) Zeid (gone)— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) November 23, 2014However, he tries not to throw hard, because it can lead to wildness. Foltynewicz on throwing fast. “But it’s kind of like when you hit a real good golf shot. You don’t really feel it because everything worked right. When you try to throw that hard, your body tightens up and it doesn’t go as fast” (Oesterle).“When you try to throw that hard, your body tightens up and it doesn’t go as fast”-Michael FoltynewiczThis could explain some of the wildness that occurred in the big leagues, trying to throw too fast. Once he learns to throw more consistently, he could be successful as a future closer.Live Feed AstrosAstros have return date in mind for ace Justin VerlanderFanSidedHouston Astros could get major boost with Justin VerlanderCall to the PenAstros vs. Tigers Prediction and Odds for Wednesday, September 14 (Go Under in Detroit)BetsidedMLB Weather Report for Wednesday, September 14 (What's the Forecast for Every MLB Team and Matchup Today?)BetsidedMLB Probable Pitchers for Wednesday, September 14 (Who's Starting for Every MLB Team Today?)BetsidedHouston Astros brain trust not going anywhereCall to the PenThe verdictWhile we are still waiting for the real Folty to stand up, I think that the Astros owe him a chance to be in the rotation. He is currently ranked as the number 3 Astros prospect by Baseball America.He could be the co-ace of the staff in a couple years. Its not hard to imagine the rotation looking like this after the first month of the 2015 season, Scott Feldman, Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Michael Foltynewicz, and Mark Appel. A young but potentially good rotation. Let’s see how spring training battles work out, but I’m sure most Astros fans are rooting for him to be in rotation.Side note: after writing this post, I know how to spell “Foltynewicz” for the next Astros spelling bee. Per BP: Folty 5th in ML among RP for 4seam FB velo (min 100 thrown) at 98.31. Next 3 on Astros: Farnsworth (gone) Bass (off 40) Zeid (gone)— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) November 23, 2014"