Folty keeps ascending with sharp start vs. Giants

Braves right-hander allows solo homer among three hits in six-plus innings

Folty keeps ascending with sharp start vs. Giants

ATLANTA -- There might be a point in Mike Foltynewicz's career when he looks back on this month and considers it to be the most influential in his development. The Braves right-hander has not established the consistency necessary to be considered a legitimate frontline starting pitcher. But he is consistently displaying the potential to gain this lofty status.

Foltynewicz took yet another impressive step in the right direction as he subdued a red-hot Giants club over six innings Monday afternoon and helped the Braves claim a 5-3 win at Turner Field. The hard-throwing right-hander commanded his fastball, which touched 98 mph a couple of times, and induced some awkward swings while showing great comfort with both his fastball and curveball.

"I've been around him now for two years, [and that was] probably the best total package I've seen out of him," said Braves manager Brian Snitker, who served as Foltynewicz's skipper for a portion of last season with Triple-A Gwinnett.

Foltynewicz's tremendous potential was evident in the repertoire he displayed while posting a 5.68 ERA over 15 starts last year before being shut down in September with a blood clot. A long offseason of recovery put the 24-year-old right-hander behind schedule during Spring Training and delayed his big league season debut until May 3, when he surrendered three first-inning home runs and lasted just four innings against the Mets.

"He just has more confidence," Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "He looks better. The ball is coming out of his hand better. There are a lot of things that are just different. It's good to see because [he's] one of those arms the Braves are counting on for years to come."

Discussion about whether Foltynewicz should be used as a starter or reliever has essentially evaporated as the once-heralded prospect has allowed two earned runs or fewer in four of five outings following that rough season debut in New York. His one rocky outing during that span occurred May 19, when he lasted three innings against the Pirates and then immediately admitted he had attempted to "overthrow" his way through the adversity encountered that evening.

"He gets frustrated and he gets mad," Pierzynski said. "There's no doubt about that. But at the same time, he understands how to channel that anger and that frustration. He's been doing a real good job with it. It's fun to see. It's fun to be out there with him to see how he competes and how he can dominate lineups when he's right."

Foltynewicz surrendered a leadoff walk to begin Monday's game and allowed Brandon Belt to begin the second inning with a home run. But he retired 14 of the next 15 batters he faced after the home run and stranded two when he ended the sixth inning with a Belt strikeout.

"I think it was all about being comfortable out there today," said Foltynewicz, who exited after allowing Hunter Pence's leadoff single in the seventh. "When I stepped out on the field today, I still had butterflies in my stomach, but they weren't like in my debut. It's just something where I was being comfortable, throwing strikes and getting ahead of guys. It worked out well today."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.