1. Mike Foltynewicz’s postseason debut goes awry in a hurry
The moment? It may have gotten to Mike Foltynewicz, and so too, did the Dodgers.
He gave up a leadoff home run to Joc Pederson — the right-hander challenged a hitter with 17.0 wFB with, yes, a fastball that came in at 98.5 mph — and then in facing Pederson for the second time, was ahead 0-2 on him with two outs before plunking the outfielder with a slider. A walk to Justin Turner later, Max Muncy launched a three-run shot.
The 26-year-old All-Star did strike out five while yielding three hits, but lasted just two innings in what marks the shortest start of his career. Only one came close, when he went just 2 2/3 on Aug. 11, 2017 against the Cardinals, and this outing continued a dubious run for Braves starters taking the mound for the first time in postseason series openers.
“I’ve been thinking about that (0-2 count) all night especially in years past, two strikes and two outs, pretty much for all that to unwind like that really takes the cake,” Foltynewicz said. “It’s really tough to go out there. You know, you’re grinding. You get two quick outs and then to get two strikes, hit the batter, fall behind, turn and walk them, and for that to happen and put your team down 4-0 in the second inning is not where you want to be, especially opening up a series and then you have (Clayton) Kershaw tomorrow.”
Foltynewicz is the fifth Braves pitcher to debut in a Game 1, and like Kris Medlen in 2012, Tom Glavine in 1991, Pascual Perez in 1982 and Phil Niekro in 1969, he took the loss.
There is now the potential, that in pulling Foltynewicz after throwing 29 strikes on 50 pitches, manager Brian Snitker could go back to him in a Game 4 instead of a Game 5 that would have had Foltynewicz pitching on normal rest.
That’s a positive, as were the first postseason appearances of lefties Sean Newcomb and Max Fried. Newcomb — who took a no-hit bid down to the final strike when he last faced the Dodgers on July 29 at SunTrust Park — struck out two with one hit allowed over two innings, and Fried didn’t allow a hit over his 1 1/3 innings with a walk and a strikeout.
When the Braves announced their NLDS roster, it was a surprise that they carried both Newcomb and Fried, who are by trade, starters. Newcomb had never come out of the bullpen until Sunday’s regular-season finale vs. the Phillies, though Fried had made nine such appearances this season and five in 2017.
But carrying them both allowed for Snitker to have options who could pitch multiple innings if things went awry for a starter. It happened faster than anyone could have predicted, but in another of those positives, the Braves were able to get young arms, including Chad Sobotka, a taste of postseason action as Atlanta finds itself now needing to rebound in this short series.
Gary A. Vasquez Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports