The Gwinnett rotation will feature Mike Foltynewicz, Aaron Blair, Tyrell Jenkins, Jhoulys Chacin and Casey Kelly
Foltynewicz will continue to build up his strength after having the frightening issue with the blood clots late last season. He displayed a solid fastball in spring training, but he is just too rusty to pitch in Atlanta right now. So Folty will get innings in Gwinnett until he’s ready to get the call – or until Bud Norris can’t hold down a starter’s job.
Folty himself sounded like he was going to need more time to get stronger, so that he can extend his performances into the late innings, which will go a long way in proving to the Braves he can be a starting pitcher.
Blair is not very far away. While he had an ERA of 8.00 in the Grapefruit League, Blair showed the Braves enough to make the team know he may be ready at some point before the All-Star Break. Blair made 12 starts in Triple-A with Diamondbacks last summer, so if he does well in Gwinnett the Braves may be tempted to make room for him in Atlanta.
Overall last season, Blair was 13-5 with a 2.92 ERA in 160.1 innings pitched between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno.
Jenkins also split last season between AA and AAA. He was 5-5 in 16 starts in Mississippi with an ERA of 3.00 and then had a 3.57 ERA in nine starts with Gwinnett, which is where he’ll return to start the season.
Chacin had an ERA of 3.00 in his six spring training games for the Braves. He’ll make a start for Gwinnett before getting the call to Atlanta to be the fifth starter. His leash will be short, however, as both Foltynewicz and Blair could push him out of the way when they are ready for Atlanta.
And Kelly will try to get on track as Gwinnett’s fifth starter. Kelly, a former first rounder with the Red Sox who has struggled in his comeback from Tommy John surgery, pitched in two games with the big league club in March and allowed three runs in four innings.
Ryan Weber will be the swing man for the G-Braves. When Chacin goes up to Atlanta, Weber will most likely get a chance to start, unless the Braves send John Gant down to be in the Triple-A rotation.
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