Washington Nationals: 5 to watch as Braves visit before All-Star Break

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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 14: Brandon Phillips
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 14: Brandon Phillips /
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Mike Foltynewicz

Facing Gonzalez on Thursday night will be Mike Foltynewicz. Foltynewicz was acquired prior to the 2015 season as part of the Evan Gattis trade and was a decent pitcher at best in his first two seasons in Atlanta.

However, the former first-round draft pick appears to finally be figuring things out this season. At 25 years old, he is still young and could just be beginning to tap into his potential. In 15 starts, he has pitched to a 3.83 ERA, which is 14th in the National League. To put that into perspective, he’s above some of the top pitchers in the league such as Jon Lester, Edinson Volquez, and Johnny Cueto.

Foltynewicz has pitched very well lately, especially in his last start against Oakland when he took a no-hitter into the ninth, but could not quite finish it off. Despite not completing the no-hitter, he pitched eight innings and only allowed one hit.

The only concern for Atlanta after the near no-hitter is how Foltynewicz will fare tonight against the Nats. He threw 119 pitches, which obliterated his previous season-high of 108 pitches. After Scherzer threw 121 pitches in a near no-hitter, he did not have his best stuff in his next start.

You would expect Scherzer to fare better than Foltynewicz after throwing so many pitches because Scherzer routinely throws more than 105 pitches per start. Scherzer is also a much better pitcher than Foltynewicz. Although Foltynewicz is having a solid season, Scherzer is in a league of his own.

Another thing that could point to Foltynewicz potentially having a bad outing is the fact that his last start against the Nats was brutal. He last pitched against the Nats on June 12 and allowed 11 hits and eight runs over 3.1 innings. Several Nats have also enjoyed lots of success against him in the past, namely Daniel Murphy who has hit .462 in 13 at-bats.

Foltynewicz is putting together a very impressive breakout season, but appears to have a few things stacked against him tonight. It will be interesting to see how he fares against an extraordinarily potent Nats lineup.

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