Mike Foltynewicz designated for assignment

Bill Shanks

The Braves had seen enough. And with a 60-game schedule, they just weren't going to go long with Mike Foltynewicz.

After another lackluster performance and even more lackluster stuff, Foltynewicz is out of the Braves rotation. He was designated for assignment after giving up six runs on four hits in 3.1 innings Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Foltynewicz's velocity was down again. His average fastball, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman, averaged 89.3 mph. 

That was obviously much lower than Foltynewicz's average velocity the last two seasons. He blamed the stadium radar gun last week when his velocity was down in the exhibition game against the Marlins, but obviously something is not right.

Foltynewicz is noticeably thinner than he was in spring training and last year. Is that the reason for his dip in velocity? Well, even with the velocity change, his command of that fastball is not good.

Some may consider this a panic move, that the Braves are giving up too quickly on Foltynewicz. But remember the troubles he had last season. Remember game five last October against St. Louis. And remember the exhibition game last week against the Marlins.

With this being such a short season, the Braves just cannot send someone out there in a start they cannot count on. Perhaps if Foltynewicz clears waivers, he can go to Gwinnett and work on getting back on track. The Braves, however, expect to trade him, as it's unlikely anyone would pick up his contract even in the shortened season without giving up another contract in return.

So, now what? Well, with no days off anytime soon the Braves will need a starting pitcher on Sunday in the home game against the New York Mets. They could go with Jhoulys Chacin, Josh Tomlin, Touki Toussaint or someone from the "other 30" group at Gwinnett.

Could they be tempted to try Bryse Wilson again? He's already had several cracks at the rotation and has not been able to show consistency. 

Ian Anderson, Tucker Davidson and Kyle Muller are three prospects who could get the opportunity. Davidson might be considered the favorite to get the chance, even though Anderson is the top pitching prospect.

The Braves miss Cole Hamels, who is out until September, and Felix Hernandez, who decided to opt out for the season due to COVID-19 concerns.

Chad Sobotka will take Foltynewicz's place on the Atlanta roster and go to the bullpen. He was with the traveling squad. The Braves will have seven days to either trade, release, or option Foltynewicz to Gwinnett if no one claims him on waivers.

If this is the final chapter for Foltynewicz with the Braves, it will be an end to a rollercoaster five-plus seasons in Atlanta.

Former GM John Coppolella got Foltynewicz with Rio Ruiz and Andrew Thurman from Houston in the trade for Evan Gattis and James Hoyt on January 14, 2015. 

Foltynewicz had been a top starting pitching prospect with the Astros, but when he got to the Braves talk started immediately if his future was going to be in the bullpen. He was very inconsistent and drove former manager Fredi Gonzalez crazy at times.

Brian Snitker stuck with Foltynewicz when he took over for Gonzalez, and the team saw progress in 2017 as Foltynewicz started 28 games and won 10 games.

Then in 2018, Foltynewicz made the All-Star team and went 13-10 with a 2.85 ERA in 31 starts. He had 202 strikeouts in 183.0 innings.

But 2019 was a weird season. In Foltynewicz's first 11 starts, he was 2-5 with a 6.37 ERA and got sent down to Triple-A Gwinnett. When he came back in early-August, Foltynewicz finished the season strong. He went 6-1 with a 2.65 ERA in his final 10 starts.

Then the postseason series with St. Louis last October really defined Foltynewicz's Atlanta career. In game two, he pitched seven shutout innings and was dominant, with no walks and seven strikeouts.

But in game five, he allowed seven runs (six earned) on three hits in 0.1 innings, with three walks. While that horrible inning was not all his fault, it showed how Foltynewicz can come unglued in a rough situation.

And now, the Braves just can't afford to see him work it out in this shortened season. So, they'll try someone else.

Listen to The Bill Shanks Show weekdays at 3:00 p.m. ET on Middle Georgia’s ESPN. You can listen online at TheSuperStations.com. Follow Bill on Twitter at @billshanks and you can email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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