The Braves knew they were going to be good this year. As hard as that may have been to believe following a 72-90 record in 2017, Mike Foltynewicz and the Braves knew this team was going to contend.
“In our mind we kind of expected this start,” the 26-year-old pitcher told Omnisport. “And we just kept taking off with it.”
Atlanta did get off to a great first month posting a 16-11 record at the end of April and got as high as 11 games over .500 at 34-23 at the beginning of June.
As good as the Braves’ start to the season was, it’s been their ability to maintain the solid play deep into the season which now has pundits more than optimistic they can make the playoffs.
Even after a loss to the Nationals Thursday, Atlanta sits just one game back of the Phillies for first place in the National League East with a 62-50 record. This is as close to first place as the Braves have been at this point in the season since Aug. 2013.
Atlanta hasn’t made the playoffs since 2014, but the last division title it won was that 2013 season. Winning division titles is what the Braves did for so long and to be back in contention for another has Atlanta fans everywhere excited.
But as Foltynewicz is quick to say, the team’s competitiveness came as no surprise to him or his teammates.
“At the end of the year (2017) we kind of felt that vibe of how good we were going to be because we had some of the younger guys down in the minor leagues that were ready to come up and we were just excited to see them in spring training,” the 2018 All-Star said. “We had that meeting at the beginning of the year that if you’re here, what’s your goals? To get to the playoffs and win the World Series and in our mind, we kind of expected this.”
Foltynewicz has been a big part of the Braves’ success as he is having a career year with a 9-8 record and a 2.98 ERA. The entire Atlanta pitching staff has been a revelation this season though posting a 3.83 ERA on the season which is good for 12th in all of MLB and seventh in the National League. They trail only the Phillies in ERA in the East.
Add that to the production of the team’s young and budding stars in Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies along with the veteran leadership of Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis, and the Braves have a chance to not only get to the playoffs, but possibly even win a division title again.
“This has been really fun,” Foltynewicz said. “The front office got some great additions to the team there in the beginning and the team chemistry has just been out of control and we’re just having a lot of fun.”