ATLANTA—By all appearances, the Atlanta Braves dodged the proverbial bullet on Tuesday night.
For their 8-2 rout of the free-falling Mets (2-9 in the last 11 games), it was initially galling to see Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz exit after five incident-free innings, surrendering zero runs and only two hits.
The reason for the quick hook: After apparently notifying Braves pitching coach Chuck Hernandez of some triceps tightness between innings, Foltynewicz—Atlanta's most dominant starting asset this season—was summarily removed for precautionary reasons.
This was a smart move, citing two factors:
a) In many cases with pitchers, triceps injuries become a precursor to elbow problems. You can never be too careful about these early-warning signals (even when benign).
In other words, a random Tuesday outing in June would only have dire consequences, if the Atlanta coaches opted to keep Foltynewicz on the mound, despite some acknowledged winces of pain.
"I kind of had this tightness after my last start, really. We've been working it out," Foltynewicz told reporters after the Atlanta victory (no decision). "There were a couple times in the fourth and fifth (innings) when I was kind of tweaking my mechanics, and I had to get through it, even though it wasn't really sore."
He then added: "It was a little tight, but it's really nothing to worry about at all. Get it taken care of (this week)."
The good news: Foltynewicz (2.16 ERA) heartily believes he'll be ready for his next start (presumably Sunday against the Padres); or at the very least, a few days of extra rest might kick him back until the June 22-24 series against the Orioles.
On Tuesday, Foltynewicz fanned six hitters and walked none. For the season, the Braves' ace now boasts the following tallies:
**His K/BB rate (2.84) and K/9 figure (10.8) are elite-level class.
**Foltynewicz owns a top-12 FIP among major-league starting pitchers (2.97).
**And of his 14 seasonal starts, Foltynewicz has absurdly notched 13 outings of two or fewer runs allowed.