Braves Back End: Foltynewicz and Perez by Ben Duronio May 26, 2015 The Braves started the year with the low-upside and low-downside combination of Eric Stults and Trevor Cahill, but have now moved to two younger starters to hold up the back end of their rotation, one of which was expected and one of which is a surprise. Mike Foltynewicz The story with Foltynewicz is a ton of power but not much command. At pretty much every minor league stop and in the majors in his short 18 inning stint last season with the Astros, Foltynewicz has shown very poor command and has walked more than four batters per nine. I wrote about Foltynewicz earlier this year as a potential long term answer for the Braves at closer, which is still a possibility if he does not lock down a rotation spot. Thankfully for Foltynewicz and the Braves, he has done well enough in the rotation so far to justify a starting role for now. While he struck just two batters out in his first outing, Foltynewicz has struck out exactly seven batters in each of his subsequent four starts. Even better, he has walked just two batters over his past two outings, which includes his very impressive 7.2 inning win against the Brewers last week. Foltynewicz still lacks command with his curveball but he has thrown a number of quality backdoor curveballs this year, especially in his last start. The Braves are right to have him working things out in the majors with Roger McDowell assisting him rather than having him down at triple-A, and fantasy owners looking for streaming options or back end options could do worse than Foltynewicz. With his high strikeout potential, he is a guy I have taken a flier on in a daily league in which I need pitching help, and he has certainly not disappointed me thus far. I like that he has taken a bit off of his fastball to hone in better command, which I think is something he and McDowell have worked on. It is not a true velocity drop, as you can see him regularly pump it up to 97 in games when he needs to gas it up, but his average fastball has dropped from just over 97 miles per hour (out of the bullpen) last year to 94.8 miles per hour this year. He has also utilized his two-seamer more often as well, which he may need to utilize more to get more ground balls. Currently he has a 28.9% ground ball rate, so unless he straightens that out he will run into some serious home run problems at the big league level, given his high velocity. Williams Perez Williams Perez is not a very well known pitcher and I was actually a bit surprised when the Braves went with him in the rotation over top prospect Matt Wisler, but they have opted to give Wisler more time in the minors and Perez is doing his best to stake a claim in the rotation. His start last night was rocky, but he was able to mitigate damage in the first and get out of a jam in the third. Other than that, he got better the deeper the game went and he has 14 strikeouts in 11 innings as a starting pitcher, which is certainly usable in the fake game. Perez is a sinker heavy pitcher which is a nice way to pitch when you have Andrelton Simmons and Jace Peterson playing up the middle behind you. His performances in the minor leagues suggest back end starter or swing man, which is the likely future destination for him. The Roger McDowell effect should be considered here though. Often the Braves have taken relatively unknowns and made them valuable through tinkering with their offerings, though mostly this has come from the bullpen. The strikeouts Perez has shown in his two starts are a big uptick from what he was providing at Gwinnett this year and in double-A last year, and ZiPS has him at a 6.39 K/9 and a 3.13 BB/9, which are far from impressive. Perez does not do much to impress you when on the mound, but he is an interesting pitcher to take a flier on due to his ground ball tendencies, his impressive two starts, and having McDowell as his pitching coach. If you are looking for a final spot in your rotation, grabbing Perez and seeing what he ends up being is not the worst idea. The Braves have shown they like him a good bit and he has impressed albeit in a short sample size.