Mike Foltynewicz is one of the most important stories to monitor during the home stretch of the Braves’ 2019 season, and all eyes will turn to him Monday night as he will lead the Braves into battle against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Folty’s uneven 2019 has been well-chronicled, but every start brings more hope that he is returning to his 2018 form. Since being recalled in early August, he has gone 3-0 with a 3.31 ERA | 4.19 FIP, and the Braves are 6-0 in those starts.
During his most recent outing, last Tuesday against the Blue Jays, he made it five scoreless innings before being lifted due to dizziness. It was not the first time this year he has struggled with this, having also left his May 19 start against the Brewers for the same reason. With any luck tonight, his body will cooperate and he will be able to pitch deeper into the game.
This will be the second time he has faced the Phillies this season, having thrown six innings of effectively wild one-run ball back in June.
He will go toe-to-toe with Philly’s ace Aaron Nola, who has been one of the bright spots in an otherwise pedestrian season for Philadelphia. He comes into this match-up with a 12-4 record and 3.63 ERA | 3.94 FIP. He struggled mightily in his last start against the Reds, allowing five runs over four innings. He still brings a dynamite arsenal to the table, and when he’s on, he’s one of the best pitchers in the game. The Braves will need to show up to the yard ready to attack early.
This will be Nola’s fifth start of the season against the Braves, having gone 3-0 with a 3.60 ERA and striking out 28 in 25 innings.
Though the Braves’ winning streak was snapped yesterday, they still hold a nine-game lead in the NL East, and the magic number sits at 11. This is the fifth of 14 consecutive games against division rivals (as the Braves will head to Washington at the conclusion of this four-game set, then back home to face these same Phillies). For the magic number to get closer to zero, the Braves will need Foltynewicz to pitch like the second half version of himself, and neutralize an inconsistent Phillies offense.