Michael Foltynewicz could become a top starter for years to come
I was on twitter and we started having some conversations about Michael Foltynewicz and what he could become for the Houston Astros. Will he be a top of the rotation starter, mid level starter or closer? This is the question all Astros fans are asking right now. Let’s take a look at some possible outcomes for Foltynewicz.
First here are his numbers from the last 3 seasons:
Michael Foltynewicz, RHP, (DOB: 10/07/91), 6-4, 220 lbs
2012 stats, A: 14-4, 3.14 ERA, 152.0 IP, 145 H, 53 ER, 62 BB, 125 SO, 3.7 BB/9, 7.4 SO/9, 2.02 SO/BB
2013 stats, A+/AA: 6-3, 3.06 ERA, 129.1 IP, 106 H, 44 ER, 66 BB, 124 SO, 4.6 BB/9, 8.6 SO/9, 1.88 SO/BB
2014 stats, AAA: 6-5, 4.20 ERA, 83.2 IP, 77 H, 39 ER, 37 BB, 82 SO, 4.0 BB/9, 8.8 SO/9, 2.22 SO/BB
So as we can see he has had success so far at every level while maintaining a good strikeout rate. The thing that sticks out is the walks. Most people know that Folty (Foltynewicz) runs his fastball up to triple digits consistently but some believe the walks may hold him back from ever becoming a top starter. There are plenty of starters who struggled with command but were still effective with some being very good.
Let’s take a look at some starters with high walk rates in minors and major league but still managed to have success:
A.J. Burnett, RHP
Burnett has had a 16-year major league career to date with a career 3.99 ERA. In his career he has a walk rate of 3.7 BB/9 with 8.3 SO/9. But I will look back further than that. In 1999 at 22-years old in AA he was 6-12 with a 5.52 ERA and 5.3 BB/9, 9.0 SO/9. That year he was called up and consistently had a walk rate around 3.5-4.5 while still being an effective starter.
Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP
Ubaldo has had some great seasons in his career as well as a down season or two. A lot of people remember his 2010 season where he went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA. In that season he had 3.7 BB/9 and 8.7 SO/9. For his career he has 4.1 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9. In his minor league career Jimenez had a 4.5 BB/9, 8.8 SO/9. As a matter of fact he had 5.4 BB/9, 7.8 SO/9 the season before getting the call up. Ubaldo has a career ERA of 3.95 in 9 seasons.
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
Zambrano is remembered for his on and off the field antics but he was a very good pitcher 2002-2010. Zambrano has a minor career 4.2 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9. In 2001, the minor league season before his callup, he had 4.1 BB/9, 9.3 SO/9, 2.28 SO/BB. In a 12 year career Zambrano had 4.1 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 with a 3.66 ERA.
So as you can tell from the three guys above, having high walk rates doesn’t always mean disaster for a starting pitcher. While it is an extra battle the pitcher faces it is definitely possible for a starting pitcher to work around. Even Jon Lester had bad walk rates in the minors and turned it around in the pros. I think Foltynewicz can and will become an effective starter for the Houston Astros in the near future!
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*Photo courtesy of Jayne Hansen*