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Morning Mound Visit: The sudden fall of Mike Foltynewicz makes no sense

What happened to Foltynewicz? Plus, Joe Kelly’s suspension, Nick Markakis’s flip-flopping, and pitchers’ early season dominance.

Atlanta Braves v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

A great thing about baseball is that it doesn’t take long to get a second chance. If a hitter goes 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, they can come back the next day for a chance at redemption. Starting pitchers have to wait a little longer, but the taste of a bad start can be washed out within a week. Occasionally, second chances aren’t quick to come around. After giving up 7 runs in the first inning of a do-or-die Game Five in last year’s NLDS, Mike Foltynewicz had to wait nine months for another shot on the bump.

It didn’t go well.

In 3 1/3 innings, Foltynewicz gave up six runs on four hits and four walks. Per FanGraphs, his fastball clocked in at an average of 91.1 MPH which is down nearly four ticks from last year which itself was the lowest of his career.

Foltynewicz, who had previously been excellent, looks suddenly lost. After starting the season late due to injury and struggling, Foltynewicz eventually put things together. He had a 1.94 ERA over his final eight starts, and in Game Two of the NLDS, he held the Cardinals scoreless over seven innings. If Atlanta would DFA him so soon, they must believe that whatever happened to him must be irreversible.

The loss of velocity is profound and worrying. Foltynewicz has never had a game where his average fastball was even close to what it was on Monday night.

Brooks Baseball

What’s puzzling is that there’s no obvious cause of his heater going out. Mechanically, he looks identical to where he was a year ago. Foltynewicz supposedly lost a little bulk, but he’s always been lanky as far professional baseball players go.

Here’s hoping that Foltynewicz catches on with a new team and that the new team isn’t the Marlins who are running out of bodies to throw on the field.

Michael Baumann | The Ringer: Everyone’s mad at the Astros, and MLB screwed up their punishment. That doesn’t mean players have any right to throw at their heads. Joe Kelly was rightfully suspended for eight games.

Craig Calcaterra | NBC Sports: Three weeks after opting out of the 2020 season, Nick Markakis has opted back in.

Craig Edwards | FanGraphs: Though it feels like the sudden ramp up has led to more pitcher injuries, pitchers are way ahead of batters after the first week of the season.