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Braves Mailbag: Mike Foltynewicz, Cristian Pache and more

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Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

We had another great round of questions for this week’s Talking Chop mailbag, so let’s get right to it.

If Hamels is solid enough and Foltynewicz looks like he did the second half last year, with Ian Anderson and Max Fried coming back, could the Braves go all the way with that? The rotation wouldn’t be top 10 or anything, but do you guys think that with our bullpen and lineup, that rotation could get us through?

I keep hearing that Foltynewicz has gained weight, and that his fastball is touching the mid-90s. However, I have heard not one word about his possible return to the Show this season. What is his status for the near, and the more distant, future with the Braves organization?

I’m lumping these two together since they both involve Mike Foltynewicz. We have heard that Foltynewicz has added weight and that his fastball velocity has ticked upward, but we don’t know for sure that the Braves see him as an option for the final two weeks of the season. When he was designated for assignment after his first start, my thoughts were he was finished with the organization. The season-ending injury to Mike Soroka and the numerous issues that have plagued the rotation at least cracked the door for a possible return.

My thinking is that if the Braves wanted to give him a cameo appearance to see if he could help for the postseason, then it would need to happen soon so that he could possibly get a couple of starts against major league competition. If that doesn’t happen soon, then I’m not sure he is someone that they are actually considering.

As far as how far can this team go in the playoffs, the expanded playoff format is just going to add more randomness to the postseason. Having no off days will certainly hurt the Braves given their lack of rotation depth but we have seen the offense and bullpen carry the load the entire season. No reason to think that it can’t happen in the postseason as well, where managers aren’t as inclined to stick with starters as long as the regular season. With the best-of-three format for the first round, I will be shocked if all of the top teams make it past the first round.

Is there any news or indication that the Braves development staff are going to get with the program and modernize? I’ve been hearing what other organizations do and I’ve been feeling like the Braves are falling behind but it’s also frustrating because it’s hard to hear what they are doing.

Not sure exactly what you mean by “get with the program” because the Braves, like most other teams, have modernized. I don’t know of any team out there that is releasing their development plan so I am not real sure what you are hoping to hear about. No, they didn’t go out and hire anyone from Driveline like the Reds but that doesn’t mean they aren’t utilizing what we would describe as modern techniques.

We have seen some of the top pitching prospects struggle but I do think that it is becoming overblown just a bit. You can’t point to the struggles of Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint and skip past the success of guys like Mike Soroka, Max Fried and now Ian Anderson. I thought David Lee touched on the development situation well in his newsletter from Wednesday. (If you aren’t subscribed to David’s newsletter, it is a must read for prospect news.) Lee talked about how we may see a shift in philosophy after the hiring of Ben Sestanovich and Paul Miller.

There were cases of aggressive or inconsistent player assignments from the previous group. There’s also somewhat of a case to be made about the effectiveness of that group’s pitching development, although I think it’s largely overblown. Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Ian Anderson as rotation fixtures (and whatever Wright will become), and what will likely be a good cast of relievers, should not be considered a failure. Front offices bring in their own choices for these departments, and I think that, along with adding fresh faces, new ideas and analytics, is the motivation for the turnover. The same happened in scouting.

Any talk of bringing Cristian Pache back up to Atlanta?

Given where we are in the regular season, I don’t really think we will be seeing Cristian Pache outside of an injury. They appear to be comfortable playing Ronald Acuña Jr. in center and while Ender Inciarte appears to have lost a step defensively, he can still serve as a late-inning defensive replacement if needed. Things could change over the final week but I think we probably won’t see Pache until Spring Training of 2021.