After another rough outing from Kevin Gausman ultimately doomed the Braves to a defeat in Pittsburgh last night, Atlanta will be depending on Mike Foltynewicz to turn things around and help the Braves leave town on getaway day with a series victory in hand.
Under normal circumstances, today’s pitching matchup would have been considered a marquee event. Mike Foltynewicz is coming off of a season where he finally came into his own as a good starting pitcher, and Chris Archer already has a few really good seasons under his belt. Unfortunately, both pitchers have been struggling and if things continue on like this, this could end up being a matter of which team can mash the most. The Braves have scored 16 runs this series and the Pirates already have 12 runs during the same duration, so this will really be another test for both pitchers.
The best thing we can say about Folty so far this season is that he’s at least had a recent flash of normalcy. Back on May 24, Foltynewicz threw six innings and struck out seven while giving up one unearned run. That was by far his best start of the season and it wasn’t too long ago. However, it would be really nice if those performances were more commonplace. Maybe he’ll continue to settle into things as the season progresses but for now, he badly needs to string together a line of good starts and this would be a good time for Folty to start that string.
Meanwhile, Chris Archer is in even bigger need of a good start. He’s only gone seven innings twice this season over nine starts. The first time happened on April 13 against Washington and that was easily his best start of the season. The second time happened on May 31 and while he put in the innings, he still gave up four runs. In fact, that start on May 31 continued a streak of six consecutive starts where Archer had given up three or more runs during one of his starts. That start against Washington was actually the last time where a team didn’t tag him for three or more runs. That rough run of starts has resulted in a 5.66 ERA and 5.61 FIP on the season.
Amazingly, that’s better than Folty’s 6.10 ERA and 6.67 FIP over seven starts. Simply put, both of these pitchers are struggling and it’ll be a relief for either pitcher if they can get out of their respective rut and get their season on the right track. Both pitchers can take heart in the fact that none of the batters that they’re facing today have a significant historical edge against them. In fact, Josh Donaldson only has six hits and six walks in 44 plate appearances against Chris Archer. Other than that, the sample sizes are a bit too small on either side of things to make any sort of serious predictions on how things will go on an at-bat basis.
While it would be great to see Mike Foltynewicz break out of his funk and return to what we saw from him last season, this could end up breaking into a slugfest between both teams and maybe we’ll have to see if the Braves can out-slug the Pirates one last time before they leave picturesque PNC Park behind.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, June 6, 12:35 p.m. ET
Location: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, Rock 100.5, Braves Radio Network